In film theory, film genre refers to the method of categorizing films based on similarities in the narrative elementsfrom which films are constructed or the emotional responses they elicit. Most theories of film genre are borrowed from literary genrecriticism. Besides the basic distinction in genre between fiction and documentary (from which hybrid forms emerged founding new genres, docufiction and docudrama), film genres can be categorized in several ways.

The setting is the milieu or environment where the story and action takes place (e.g., a war film, a Western film or a space opera film). The theme or topic refers to the issues or concepts that the film revolves around (e.g., science fiction film, sports film or crime film). Themood is the emotional tone of the film (e.g., comedy film, horror film or tearjerker film). Format refers to the way the film was shot (e.g.,anamorphic widescreen) or the manner of presentation (e.g.: 35 mm, 16 mm or 8 mm). Additional ways of categorizing film genres is by the target audience (e.g., children’s film, teen film or women’s film) or by type of production (e.g., B movie, big-budget blockbuster orlow-budget film).

Film genres often branch out into subgenres, as in the case of the courtroom and trial-focused subgenre of drama known as the legal drama. Genres that at first may seem unrelated can be combined to form hybrid genres, such as the melding of horror and comedy in the Evil Dead films. Other popular genre combinations are the romantic comedy and the action comedy film.