Week four

Torture Porn:

According to Carroll (????), what is the role of torture in the torture porn franchises Saw and Hostel? Using references, explain this in your own words. How do you think these purposes might relate to the socio-political environment of that time period and such events like 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal?

I think torture porn plays the role of horror in both Saw and Hostel films. Because in these two films, there are scenes of kidnapping, bondage and imprisonment, which will make the audience feel horror. Torture porn is also a visual representation of physical reality that delivers a sensation of fear through magnifying moments of mutilation. In these two films, torture porn presents subtle and suggestive moments of repressed terror, presenting viewers with moments of torture. In the film Saw, it uses torture porn to directly appeal to the viewer’s body, making the experience tangible by inducing empathy through pain and disgust. In the film of Hostel, the plot shows that the body is a commodity to buy and enjoy, because it uses torture porn to satisfy its desire for enjoyment. At the same time, characters lose a right of control their body, so they become a tester. However, this kind of behavior will make the audience in front of the screen feel scared and even disgusted (Reyes, 2014). From certain way to see, torture porn is similar to splatter film. As stated by Arnzen(1994), the motivation of the splatter film is from the destruction of the body and the pain that comes with it. General horror movie focus on the destruction of the order from the social and moral. However, torture porn this kind of horror movie focus on the lack of order.

In my opinion, the horror from torture porn is different from the horror from the general horror film. Because the horror elements from a majority of horror films is basically around the element of unknown, cosmic horror and supernatural things. The horror elements of horror in torture porn is a violence from human’s body. It is a man-made behavior. When I watch those horror movies that is about a violence from human’s body, I will feel that the tester is not a thing but a human. It is a living thing. How human can torture another human even be violence to them. When I think in this way, I feel frightened. Arnzen(1994) says that, a majority of horror films mainly around the factor of unknown, horror from the cosmic and somethings beyond ordinary thinking. Torture porn is cold-blooded violence from people’s body.

I think the purposes of torture porn might related to the social and political issues at that times. There was a necessary connection between the torture porn and the socio-political issues at that time. As the purpose of the even 9/11 might be America’s massive military intervened in the Middle East, the proliferation of western popular culture (mainly an openness to sex and alcohol that was simply unacceptable to Bin Laden, al qaeda, the taliban or other fundamentalist islamists), and so on. The U.S. government still assumes that the main reason for the attacks was an outbreak of anti-american sentiment among terrorists (American Muslin Leaders, 2001). For the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the reason might be the American military invaded the area of Iraq at that time. Therefore, torture porn became a contemporary horror’s center at around of 2000 (Reyes, 2010)


American Muslin Leaders. (2001). Muslim Americans Condemn Attack. Retrieved from: https://www.islamicity.org/1218

Arnzen, M. A. (1994). Who’s Laughing Now? The Postmodern Splatter Film. Journal of Popular Film and Television21(4), 176-184. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01956051.1994.9943985?journalCode=vjpf20

Reyes. (2014). Body Gothic: corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film – Torture Porn

Post Horror:

1. In this lecture, I have briefly outlined how Hereditarycontains elements of folk horror, cosmic horror and family drama. Using examples from your own readings and the film, describe how you feel these elements make up the film Hereditary and how it might fit into the larger canon of “prestige horror” from Rosemary’s Baby to today. 

The folk horror is different from the other genre of horror. Folk horror is mainly based on folk tales, including religious horror of ancient early Christianity, disturbing pagan traditions, outdated rituals, and irrational fears of female and other “demon” influences. It was the pagan god of the anxious counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s (The 10 Best Folk Horror Movies of All Time, 2019). In Hereditary this film, Charlie’s grandmother is the biggest boss. Grandmother Charlie was one of the original members of the cult that summoned the demons of Paramount This cult is believed to be one of the eight gods of hell, Paramount, the most powerful devil in the west. The demonic ability of Paramount is to give his followers knowledge of fame, artistic inspiration, science, etc. In the film, Charlie’s grandmother is very good at hand-weaving carpets. Annie made the dollhouse to life. Charlie’s DIY beheaded toys and paintings are also unique, suggesting that they were gifted by the dark art of Paramount. Paramount is a “pagan god from the Middle East” whose name describes a “ding dong” or “tick” sound. The tonguing that came out of Charlie was actually an implicit call to himself, because tonguing sounds a lot like tinker bell (How to evaluate the horror movie Hereditary, 2018).

Family drama refers to high tension conflicts between characters. The description of family drama makes the audience pay more attention to the characters’ personality, inner conflicts and emotions between the characters but not the description of horror themes. In Hereditary this film, Annie tried to get rid of Peter several times when she was pregnant, because Annie knew that her mother wanted to take advantage of him, but she was reluctant to have the baby out of maternal love. However, Anne seems to have no idea that her mother is a member of a cult, which explains her split personality. This split personality manifests itself in Annie sleepwalking and doing weird things like putting flammable paint on Peter and shaking his head violently. Sometimes Annie didn’t even know she was being manipulated by her mother. At the memorial service, Annie’s mother wore a necklace with the symbol of Paramount. Annie also wore the necklace, part of a plan by believers to make her easier to manipulate. For example, on the night of Charlie’s death, Charlie didn’t want to join Peter’s party, and Peter didn’t want to take Charlie with him, but Annie insisted that Peter take Charlie to the party. This is a very strange decision, which suggests that personality control, as it’s called, doesn’t have to be enforced, it’s subconscious control. After Charlie died, Annie went to the treehouse to sleep almost every night, ostensibly to miss Charlie, but actually she was cursed and controlled subconsciously (How to evaluate the horror movie Hereditary, 2018).

I think cosmic horror also appears in thus film. Nyugen(2016) claims cosmic horror is that there is no recognizable god in cosmic; the effect of human in the universe is not essential. Stanford (2007) explains that people feel fear about the things that are beyond their fundamental understanding of the world. The light in the film, in fact, is Paramount. Finally, Peter falls from the upstairs. In Peter’s half-dead state, Paramount succeeds in the upper body when Peter is the weakest (How to evaluate the horror movie Hereditary, 2018).


Nyugen, T. (2016). History of Humans. Is There a God? 3

Stableford, B. (2007). Cosmic Horror.

The 10 Best Folk Horror Movie of All Time. (2019). Retrieved from: http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2019/the-10-best-folk-horror-movies-of-all-time/

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