Different types of movie in English

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Different types of movie in English

In this lesson, we will look at the different types of movie in English. There are hundreds of different genres (types) of movie (as you’ve probably seen on Netflix!), but in this lesson we will look at the main genres and some of the more advanced vocabulary used with each genre.

Let’s start by looking at the most common genres. We’ve tried to use an appropriate image where we can!

Here’s a description of the genres:

Genre Description
Animated (also called Anime when done in a Japanese style) Where the characters are drawn and voiced over by actors.
Biopic A biographical movie about a real person (living or dead). They are supposed to be factual, but sometimes they take some artistic licence (take a look at this page if you don’t know what this means!).
Comedy A film that is primarily supposed to be funny.
Crime A movie about a person or people breaking the law.
Disaster A movie about a major event like a hurricane, volcano or other natural event.
Documentary A factual program. A documentary becomes a documentary movie if it is longer than normal.
Family A family movie is something suitable for all ages.
Historical drama A historical drama is a movie set in past times. It does not necessarily mean it is factual – it could be fiction.
Martial arts A movie based on fighting in a traditional style of combat, like karate or kung fu.
Romantic comedy (also called a RomCom) A movie focuses on romantic ideas in a lighthearted (not serious) way
Science fiction Movies about science and the future (although often not factual)
Sports A movie that has a central focus around a sport.
Horror (can also be called a slasher if it’s particularly gory) A movie that aims to use fear for entertainment purposes. This can be through violence, the supernatural or other means.
Thriller A thriller is a movie that makes you feel excitement, suspense and tension.
Western A film set in 19th century America, involving cowboys and gun fights.
Historical drama A historical drama is a movie set in past times. It does not necessarily mean it is factual – it could be fiction.

Here are some examples descriptions with some vocabulary specific to each type:


I recently saw a biopic about Winston Churchill. It was a very interesting exposé (a hidden truth that is often surprising) of the man.


In this genre, my favourite style is dark comedy (getting comedy from something serious or tragic, like war or death). I really don’t like slapstick (where people do silly things like trip over) comedy but my friend thinks they are hysterical (extremely funny). I don’t mind parodies (exaggerating another movie or person to make them foolish – also called a ‘satire‘ if it has a political or social focus) though. I saw a really funny mockumentary (a movie presented as a serious documentary, but actually it is being satirical) about a fictional band – I thought that was hilarious (very funny)!


I quite like crime movies if the criminal is caught by a clever detective (a policeman who’s job it is to investigate crime). They often begin with a homicide (when someone is killed), and the detective has to interview people who know the victim (the person who the crime was against) in order to find the perpetrator (the person who committed the crime). I also like crime movies where the police investigate a heist (a robbery).


I like the special effects (using models or computers to create an image that doesn’t exist) in disaster movies, especially when they deal with apocalyptic events (events that would end the world).


There are lots of different types of documentary that I like. My favourite types are definitely nature documentaries and hard-hitting (direct and honest without being soft, especially when talking about facts most people don’t want to know or hear about) social documentaries. I don’t really like crime documentaries though, where they do reconstructions (where they act out what happened or what they think happened) of crimes.

Science fiction

I love science fiction movies, especially when they involve extra-terrestrials (life from another planet) coming to Earth in UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects – spaceships!). I think there is a lot of creativity in this type of movie, with aliens (same meaning as extra-terrestrials in this context) that are shape shifters (they can take the shape of something or someone else). I also like dystopian ( an imagined state or society where there is a lot of suffering or injustice) sci-fi movies.


I’m not a great fan of gory (where there is a lot of blood) horror films – they terrify (to make someone very scared) me! I won’t watch most slasher films (films that are gory), or films with zombies (dead people that still move) any more because they give me nightmares. I don’t know how people can watch grotesque (very ugly or distorted) movies like that.

I don’t mind psychological horror (relies on mental and emotional responses and less on what you actually see) and supernatural horror (things that we can’t prove are real, like ghosts or demons) movies. They can be just as hair rising (extremely alarming or frightening) and spine tingling (pleasurably frightening) without having to show lots of blood. For me, suddenly hearing a blood-curdling scream (a sudden, alarming and high pitched scream) is much more effective than actually seeing someone getting killed.


I like all kinds of thrillers, regardless of whether they are slow-burn (builds tension over a long period) or fast paced (lots of quick action and changes). I like suspenseful (not sure whats going to happen but the excitements is building) films, especially when there is a taut (never relaxes – consistent tension or scares that don’t stop throughout the whole film) story.


I think the most famous actor in Western movies was Clint Eastwood. He always seems to play a cowboy (someone who rides horses and works on a ranch), riding across the plains (flat lands with a wide expanse) on his horse. Then he’d get to a small town with a saloon (an old style bar or pub where people could buy alcohol). Then there would be a gunfight where one person would shout ‘Draw!’ (to remove your gun from it’s holster, which was like an extra ‘pocket’ hung around the waist like a belt) and they’d try and shoot each other.