The Makings of a Horror Villain


There are so many aspects to think of when it comes to creating a good horror film. The genre is steeped in atmosphere and stylistic themes, perhaps more so than any other. Though, even if you create the most terrifying scenery imaginable for your gruesome tale it won’t mean a thing without convincing characters and when it comes to horror none need to be more convincing than the antagonist.

It goes without saying in any story you create that you want to try and create a compelling antagonist, however when it comes to horror movies the antagonist is the main feature of the story. It’s here that usually you’ll find the source of your fear factor throughout the journey. Today we’re going to talk about a few things you can do to create a terrifying and believable villain.

First off we’ll start with something basic point for any character; you need establish your antagonist’s motives. Why are they doing what they are doing? Take for example Dracula, as a Vampire he has an uncontrollable urge and need to feed off of the blood of humans, that’s why he kills. Sometimes though, he will turn some of his victims into vampires, often women. Is this because he seeks companionship or because he likes the idea of having female slaves? These are two seemingly minor details that would change the character entirely. One makes him a lonely creature, tortured by his condition whilst the other makes him a power-hungry monster that cares only for himself. Think about what kind of story you want to tell and let the characters motives aid it.

Next let’s talk about fears. A good way to ramp up your villains fear factor is to have them embody things that genuinely frighten us. An obvious thing that we’ve all at least felt relatively uncomfortable in at some point is the dark. What is it that could be hiding in the shadows? What does your mind imagine in the silhouettes of the night? Or perhaps for a more stark and realistic fear think of things you’ve heard in the news that have shocked you; kidnapping, serial killers or even freak accidents. People have always drawn on genuine fears when creating monsters, take for example the werewolf, back when people lived in small villages I can’t imagine there was anything more terrifying than the woods at night, especially with wild beasts roaming about.

Finally think about the look of your character. Are you creating a fully fledged monster or an unassuming yet sinister figure? If you are creating a monster or a hell bent killer you’ll want to really try and make their looks as terrifying or disturbing as possible. These are the characters that frighten us in the dark, mentioned earlier. Their motives are simple so you need to draw out as much terror as you can simply with their presence. Think about characters like those in Alien, Halloween or even It, all very different characters yet each with their own horrifying qualities and haunting appearances, again drawing on our fears. Think about your story, think about your characters and use these points to terrify your audience.