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Joseph Nguyen
Professor Greg McClure
Writing 39B
28 November 2016
Analysis of a Ritual Gone Bad
We created a short horror film that was centered around the summoning of a demon. This
was the opportunity for my group members and I to demonstrate what we have learned about
reception and the conventions of the horror genre. The audience for our video is comprised of
scholarly individuals who have learned about rhetoric and its importance. Most of the audience
will have done research on the general expectations of the horror genre and will be expecting
these horror tropes. The medium of the project was a video of found footage of college students.
The video is supposed to be seen as a mysterious video of a dangerous incident. The characters
in the film acknowledge the camera to create a closer experience with the audience. The
audience should feel like they can relate to the characters in the film. The purpose for
communication is to demonstrate understanding of rhetoric and the elements of the horror genre.
All of the story elements of the film were specifically chosen while keeping the audiences
reception in mind. The cultural and historical context is a college setting in the year 2016. The
fact that the setting of the film is a college dorm and the characters in the film are college
students creates a closer experience with the college students in the audience. These college
students should feel some sort of connection to the college students in the film and to the things
that happen to the characters in the film. The ideas of peer pressure and betrayal, ideas that the
audience should be familiar with, are clearly presented in the video. Cultural ideas and beliefs
are extremely diverse in this context. The expectations of horror are quite different than they

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have been in the past. My group had to think of a subject that was different from the typical
horror movie. My group had to think of a concept that would be threatening to todays audience
and we believed a supernatural topic such as demons would work well. Knowing this, our group
constantly kept in mind the elements of horror that were discussed in Nol Carrolls essay The
Nature of Horror while creating this film.
There are two specific moments in the film that stand out to me as having grown out of
the rhetorical situation. The first specific moment from our video that shows a rhetorical thought
process is the moment in the film where the group first sits down and begins summoning the
demon. The previous scene where everyone is still talking in the common room transitions
quickly and the first thing the audience sees is the setup for the ritual. The moment the audience
sees the scene they should be freaked out and want to take no part in the things happening in the
film. Even my group members Manny and Nikki got a bit paranoid when we were setting up the
scene. The idea of playing with the supernatural is disturbing. The ideas of Carroll played a big
part in how our group made rhetorical decisions. Carroll says Rather, threat is compounded by
revulsion, nausea, and disgust (Carroll 53) when discussing fear in the horror genre. No one in
their right mind would fool around with the supernatural realm, whether they believe it in due to
religious connections or whether they dont believe in it at all. In this cultural context there are
plenty of young college students that believe in demons and ghosts so the idea works well. The
setup for the demon ritual also fulfils the threatening and impure conventions of horror that
Carroll mentions in his essay. The other specific moment in the film that shows a process of
rhetorical decision making is the scene where Manny appears to be possessed and kills the other
members of the group. There is very little dialogue during the scene and the characters in the
film are unaware of what is happening until it is too late. The group decided that it would be

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more impactful if there were no words during this scene and that it would be more frightening to
the audience. We believed that the audience would be able to focus more on the killings if it was
a quiet shot that focused on Mannys actions. Katies addition of the music through her editing
also helps aid with viewer reception. This scene completes the threatening aspect of Carrolls
horror elements. It also helps convey the theme of betrayal in the film. The audience sees that the
group turns on Manny and sees the consequences of betrayal. There is a cultural context
connection to the message of the film. The betrayal and peer pressure shown in film did not
result in a happy ending. The college students in the audience can relate to the feeling of peer
pressure. While maybe peer pressure will not always end up with everyone dying, the video
further instills the idea that peer pressure is wrong.
Most of my contributions to the RIP can be seen during the scene where the demon is
summoned. I brought the materials to set up the demon summoning ritual such as the powder to
draw the pentagram and the candles. I had also brought fake blood but the group decided that it
was not necessary to use it. I tried to argue that the fake blood would add to viewer reception but
no one wanted to use it. I had researched common visuals in demon summoning videos and tried
to incorporate them into our video. I thought that the most important part of the demon
summoning was making it believable. I wanted the audience to be creeped out and disturbed at
what they saw. For the most part we did not stick to a script. I did my best to portray the
character that would break the circle and not go along with the plan. There is often the trope in
rituals where one member of a group does not follow through with the plan and as a result chaos
usually ensues. It was fairly obvious that I was going to break the circle from the start. I was very
hesitant and constantly asked the group if we should be messing with such a dangerous concept
of summoning a demon. An example is when i say, I dont think we should be doing this. Its a

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bad idea (Acosta, Found Footage of Missing Students). I also told Manny it would be good to
foreshadow that he would be the one that would be chosen by the group to die. I recommended
him to play the character that doesnt believe anything that is going to happen, the character that
jokingly plays with evil. Each person came up with their own lines to say based off of Nicolette's
initial script and everyones suggestions. However, I gave Manny a paragraph in Latin so he
could read it off to summon the demon. I noticed that spells and incantations involving demons
were often times in Latin due to their connection to old Catholic beliefs. I believe that the
pentagram and the Latin phrase were crucial in having an appropriate audience reception for the
horror genre.
The experience of working with my group members was not at all a bad one. Everyone
had ideas to contribute and we took the time to carefully discuss those ideas and the impact they
would have on viewer reception. It took a long time, but we were all eventually able to agree on
the elements of the story. In my opinion, time management was one of the biggest challenges that
we faced. Things took considerably longer than they had to because we took so much time
discussing the possibilities for the film and because we kept on laughing during the filming of
the scenes. One example of the process taking long occurred in the scene where we were
gathered around the table and summoning the demon. We kept discussing what would be the best
way for the audience to understand that one character needed to die. We talked about many
possibilities such as writing the demons message on the board but ultimately decided that it
would be easiest of Manny simply explained it to the group. We all agreed that it was the most
simple way to do it and that it would be the most clear to the audience. One thing that stands out
to me as positive is the work ethic that everyone in the group displayed. The scene that included
the actual demon ritual took multiple takes to get right but no one got irritated and everyone

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stayed calm. I expected the group, myself included, to get annoyed at having to do the scene over
and over again but no one showed signs of being being irritated. Overall I think the experience of
working with the group went smoothly and I would be happy to work with them on a big project
again. Everyone contributed equally on the project and we all collaborated well.

Works Cited

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"Affably Evil / Playing With - TV Tropes." TV Tropes. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Carroll, Nol. "The Nature of Horror." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 46.1 (1987):
51-59. Web.
Found Footage of Missing Students. Dir. Manuel Acosta. Perf. Manuel Acosta, Nicolette Geller,
Joseph Nguyen, and Katie Xiong. N.p., 29 Nov. 2016. Web.
"Summoning Ritual - TV Tropes." TV Tropes. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.