While one popular image of horror is the 1970s American slasher film, the cinema of repugnance and fear is a vibrant transhistorical and transnational mode of filmmaking that has undergone extraordinary shifts in the last twenty to thirty years. This seminar will focus on horror films of the last three decades hailing from over a dozen different countries. Although we will consider the specificity of national horror cinemas in relation to myths, legends, and historical trauma, we will also examine our films comparatively, noting stylistic connections and theorizing the many ways violence, shock, trauma, disgust, anxiety and every manner of the terrible are portrayed. Each week will therefore focus on a different national cinema and on a different conceptual area, including monstrosity, extremity, and the postmodern turn. Films include: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ringu, Let the Right One In, Shaun of the Dead, Haute Tension, Martyrs, Saw, The Human Centipede, Scream, Rubber, Saw, [REC] and The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Readings from philosophers and film theorists will help us understand the way these horror films negotiate violence, trauma, and pain; how they grapple with ethics, politics, and historical allegory; their representations of gender, sexuality and embodiment; formal questions, including narrative and visual style; and how their relationship to violence intersects with (is influenced by, is in dialogue with) or departs from (even opposes, radically upends), our more ordinary language sense of “horror film.”
Prerequisite: one prior course in film or media analysis.