The British Board of Film Classification is to more closely scrutinise horror movies under new guidelines for certifying films.
The BBFC said it would pay attention to the impact of gore and strong visuals in its deliberations. But after asking the public, there will be more flexibility for strong language in films given a 15 certificate. The BBFC consultation showed the sexualisation of young women in film and music videos to be a major concern. The findings revealed the content of some music promos and ease of accessibility to on-line pornography are also a public worry.
Other amendments that are being made to the organisation's guidelines include tightening up of language in U certificate films, deemed suitable for all viewers. The BBFC has also said it will give greater weight to the theme and tone of films which are issued with parental guidance (PG) and suitable for 12-year-olds and over (12A) certificates. Changes to the guidelines will come into force on 24 February. The organisation admitted the 12A classification continues to confuse many viewers, and further work to improve understanding of the certification would be carried out this year. The BBFC's website states that 12A means that "anyone aged 12 or over can go and see the film unaccompanied".
Children younger than 12 may see the film "if they are accompanied by an adult (eg someone over the age of 18), who must watch the film with them". The BBFC's exercise involved some 10,000 members of the public, with teenagers as well as their parents taking part for the first time. They were asked their opinions on how various issues in film and video, including sex and violence, should be handled.
BBFC director David Cooke said the exercise "ensures that we continue to be in step with what the public wants and expects in order to make sensible and informed viewing decisions". But he also conceded there was "room for improvement", referring to the need to bring more clarity to the "very important" 12A certificate. The BBFC also said that its respondents largely agreed with the 12A certificate for 2012's The Woman in Black, despite it being the most complained-about film of the past four years.
Now I know it's not exactly the Video Nasties scenario all over again but the BBFC have a history of messing around with ratings and have never exactly been friendly to the Horror genre. To me this is only the tip of the iceberg, the fact that this has come about because of "The Woman In Black" is pathetic.
Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the film and felt it was handled very well, the '12A' rating gives the parent more of a choice as to what their children watch, so why aren't they taking responsibility before complaining to the BBFC?!
Time will tell what happens next and I maybe jumping the gun but one things for sure, the Horror genre will be the first to be scrutinised against and picked apart by the BBFC, not for the first time and definitely not for the last.