Although "The Most Dangerous Game" is usually considered an action/adventure mystery, it also includes elements of both the Gothic and horror genres. Connell sets the tone of horror in the opening paragraphs by his careful use of setting and vocabulary: The story takes place on a "moonless Caribbean night" sailing through "blood-warm waters" past the "mysterious" Ship-Trap Island--an area that fills sailors with "curious dread" because of its superstitious and "evil" reputation. The possibility of death becomes evident when Rainsford hears gunshots and screams "of anguish and terror" coming from the island and then has to swim for his life after falling from the yacht. Zaroff's chateau has a Gothic nature to it, complete with a "tall piked iron gate," stone steps and "a leering gargoyle" as a door knocker. It was
... a lofty structure with pointed towers plunging upward into the gloom... it was set on a high bluff, and on three sides of it cliffs dived down to where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows.
... it was no mirage, he found... above it all hung an air of unreality.
The aura of death hangs about Zaroff's home: It is filled with stuffed animal heads, weapons and the "menacing" savage, Ivan. The talk turns to the hunting and killing of animals before Zaroff eventually reveals the new prey--the human kind--that he now prefers. Rainsford is filled with terror during the first stages of the hunt, and the eerie sounds and terrain of the jungle is made more terrifying because of the darkness. Additionally,
The story features a classic device of the horror genre: the moment in which time slows down, and a second seems like an hour. Many words are used to describe a short interval of time, so the reader's experience of time slows down and the moment acquires a greater importance in relation to the remainder of the text. Examples of this include when Rainsford falls in the water and when he waits for the general in the tree.