Studies in Film

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 thirty years. This seminar will focus on horror films of the last three decades hailing from a dozen different countries, examining 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 focus on a different conceptual area, including monstrosity, surrealism, rules, reflexivity, gender and sexuality, extremity, and the postmodern turn.

Films include: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Shining, Pan’s Labyrinth, Ringu, Let the Right One In, Shaun of the Dead, Haute Tension, Martyrs, Scream, [REC], Saw, The Human Centipede, Rubber, The Cabin in the Woods, Only Lovers Left Alive, and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Readings from philosophers and film theorists will help us understand the way 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, sonic 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.”