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Film

10 essential films that define genre-hybridity

Films are defined and recognised through their genres. These classifications come with distinct character types, settings and story points representing the genre. Essentially, genre can be thought of as a landscape of tools filmmakers use to build their work.

However, filmmakers can experiment and make films that exist in a shared area between two or more specific genres. This technique allows for variation in storytelling and iconography, with tones changing at any moment.

Genre-hybrid films can attract a range of audience types. Horror fans can be offered the chance to laugh, or romance lovers get to experience some dramatic period pieces.

There seems to be no limit to the intersection of different genres and how they are mixed. Here are ten films that show how to cross genres and why it can be a good idea for filmmakers.

Check out the full list below.

10 essential films that define genre-hybridity:

10. Logan (James Mangold, 2017): Superhero, Action, Western

In this hybrid flick, Hugh Jackman played Marvel’s most famous X-Man Wolverine for the ninth time. Taking inspiration from the ‘Old Man Logan’ comic book story, this film follows Logan in his protection of young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen) from the Reavers.

Cited as one of the greatest superhero movies ever, Logan also offers Spaghetti Western iconography in its costumes and settings, paying tribute to the genre as a source of influence and adding a hero going on a long journey also echos the western genre. Most significantly, the film references one of the greatest and most popular westerns of all time – Shane.

9. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004): Horror, Survival, Comedy

The first instalment in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy shows Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in a battle against a zombie apocalypse. Fighting against them are parents, friends, ex-girlfriends and disapproving flatmates.

Wright’s screenplay balances horror against comedy perfectly. The reactions to the living dead feel genuine when looking at the character types who aren’t your average horror hero. There’s enough blood and guts to appease horror fans and a hefty dollop of British humour to break the tension.

8. Grease (Randal Kleiser, 1978): Musical, Comedy, Romance, Coming of Age

A staple in American film culture, Grease is about two teens (played by adults) who fall in love in the 1950s, despite the pressure from being in different cliques. It follows their friends in the ups and downs of high school, featuring romance, academic stress and the uncertainty of the future.

With a soundtrack full of iconic songs that can match multiple moods and tones, Kleiser’s film shows love and coming of age alongside choreographed dances and talented vocals from the cast. It’s a classic feel-good film that hits all the spots of both musicals and romance.

7. Aliens (James Cameron, 1986): Science-Fiction, Horror, Action

Sigourney Weaver returns as beloved final girl Ellen Ripley, this time under James Cameron’s direction following Ripley Scott’s. This sequel, considered one of the best, continues Ripley’s fight against the Xenomorphs in a more significant and threatening invasion than the last.

Not only is Aliens considered one of the greatest sequels to a great movie, but it is also cited as a masterpiece by many. Cameron’s fascination with the cinematic spectacle finds the perfect manifestation in this 1986 sci-fi horror masterclass.

6. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019): Comedy, Drama, Thriller

Bong Joon-ho tackled many social themes in this Oscar-winning blend of comedy, drama and thriller. A lower-income family hatches a plan to become employed by an upper-class one and infiltrate their household by pretending to be unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

The critical and film fan reaction to this film was something film history will never forget. Bong’s story is unrestricted to one genre. It was recommended to some as a horror. However, others interpreted it as a social drama, making it re-watchable due to the diversity in tones as the story progresses.

5. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2004): Dark fantasy, War, Drama

Guillermo del Toro tells a hauntingly beautiful story of family, sacrifice and struggle in this blend of dark fantasy and drama. Set against the Spanish Civil War, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) finds herself immersed in a mythical world with an abandoned labyrinth.

The back setting of the war that interrupts the fantasy elements demonstrates Del Toro’s ability to blend genres and tones. His film stays with audiences after watching, whether because of the gorgeous yet dark visuals or the tragic bittersweet story.

4. Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016): Superhero, Action, Comedy

Wade Wilson (Ryan Renolds) hunts down those responsible for his mutant abilities and altered appearance as wise-cracking vigilante Deadpool. Helping him in his search are members of the X-Men, who offer him a place on their team despite their differences.

With a certified rating of 15, Deadpool is a Marvel comics adaptation that can delve into its action genre with brutal fights and carnage. It also gets to display some adult humour as exerted by Deadpool, with dirty jokes and colourful language. It’s a wild and entertaining ride for superhero fans.

3. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Sharon Maguire, 2001): Romance, Comedy

Based on Helen Fielding’s 1996 novel, Bridget Jones’ Diary follows a single woman (Renee Zellweger) living in Britain who uses her diary as an outlet for her goals and thoughts. Her world is turned upside down when two men (Hugh Grant and Colin Firth) begin to battle for her affection.

A light-hearted and warm tone coats this story. Its comedy element is charming, thanks to Zellweger’s loveable performance. The love triangle Bridget finds herself in shows different types of relationships and expressions of love, sweetening the mood perfectly.

2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Robert Zemeckis, 1988): Live Action, Animation, Mystery

Bob Hoskins stars in this 80s crossover of animation and live-action. A private investigator working in 40s Hollywood is tasked with finding out who murdered the owner of Acme and wrongfully framed a cartoon rabbit named Roger.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a fascinating film due to its blend of cartoon logic and film-noir crime. It masters both of these with a balanced execution, the animation providing humour that takes risks and a mystery that makes audiences second-guess everything.

1. Clue (Jonathon Lynn, 1985): Comedy, Crime, Mystery

Six guests gather at a dinner at the mansion of their host, Mr. Boddy. However, there’s a shocking turn of events when the host turns up dead, and the guests must figure out who the killer is before they strike again.

Despite receiving mixed reviews upon release, Lynn’s film has gained a cult following. The killer lurking upon the guests doesn’t guarantee straight horror, as the dialogue is influenced by black comedy that borders slapstick. The mystery tone is so effective because multiple endings are offered to audiences, with twists at every turn.