Week Four: Post Horror & The New Weird

Question 1:

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?

Answer:

The role of Torture Porn Films (AKA, Splatter Films) is to reputedly emphasize depictions of violence, torture, gore, mutilation, nudity and sadism (Reyes, 2014). This mode of depiction is to display a sense of helplessness and the vulnerability of the human body plus theatricality of its mutilation. The difference between typical horror film and Splatter films are, horror films deal extensively with the Lovecraftian concept of “Fear of the Unknown” whereas, the fear in Splatter films comes from physical destruction of the body and the pain accompanying it (Reyes, 2014). Couple of movies which exemplify the torture methods are as follows, Hostel (2005), Hostel II (2007), Hostel III (2011), Human Centipede (2009), The Human Centipede II (2011). Movies of this nature depict the fear which the society has perceived, that is, the Human Rights Violation through the scandal in Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq. To expound on this incident more further, during the war in Iraq that began in March 2003, personnel of the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency committed a series of human rights violations against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (Hilal, 2017) . These violations included physical and sexual abuse, torture, sodomy, rape and murder. The abuses came to widespread public attention with the publication of photographs of the abuse by CBS News in April 2004 (Hilal, 2017). As a result, this incident extremely triggered the brutal fear of torture porn in the society. The sense of un-trust was being developed amongst their own people, as a consequence, Fear was slowly seeping into the hearts of their own fellowmen. For example, the democratic countries were the core players in protecting the fundamentals of Human Rights but as seen in the expedition of the invasion of Iraq, the so called rule makers of human rights were caught as the abuses of human rights. Correspondingly, in the movie franchise, Hostel, the rich elites whom the society Once trusted, now, they were paying huge amount of cash to torture and kill their own national citizens and others . A sense of distrust was creeping in as a cultural anxiety. Nevertheless, laying at the core of all these cultural fears were the Planned attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York. This incident marked a great shift in political, societal, cultural and entertainment spectrum. As a result, it marks an important shift in the genre of horror and the kinds of cultural fears audiences begin to have (Jones, 2019) in the early 20th century. The fear of Invasion, bombing, war, insecurity and uncertainty. The social fear was continuously cultivated through the news broadcasts, media outlets and internet.

To conclude, the horror genre, torture porn contributes significant horrific impacts on human cognizance. This genre was very popular after the incidents of Abu Ghraib torture scandal and the attacks on the world trade center.

References:

Hilal, M. (2017). “Abu Ghraib: The legacy of torture in the war on terror”. Aljazeera. Retrieved August 18, 2019 from https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/abu-ghraib-legacy-torture-war-terror-170928154012053.html

Jones, N. (2019). Post horror and the new weird [Lecture Material]. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz

Reyes, A. X. (2014). Body gothic: Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Post Horror / Question 2:

In this lecture, I have briefly outlined how Hereditary contains 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. 

Answer:

The term “post-horror”, according to Rose (2017), refers to the latest generation of films, in which the concept of horror is refashioned with an auteuristic sensibility (Rose, 2017). The journalist’s explanation suggests that these are films that essentially reveal the beliefs and feelings of their directors. It is a new sub-genre of horror that breaks typical conventions and or clichés of horror movies (Rose, 2017). The director is free to redefine the extent to which horror appears in the movie, including making the movie have very few instances of horror. Instead of relying on conventional exorcism and supernatural witch stories, filmmakers create their own versions of horror using themes (Jones, 2019). Furthermore, There are multiple elements of post horror found in the movie Hereditary (2018), to mention some, 1: Tension and high conflict of emotions between characters. The scene when the family of three were sitting at the dining table for dinner and an extensive argument and quarreling erupts between the mother & the son. The atmosphere was too intense (Hereditary, 2018). Similarly, another element of Post horror in this movie was the engagement of “folk horror”, which is the idea of paganism and mythology. In the movie, the mother was introduced to a women who taught her and introduced her to rituals which their grandmother was a member of. Furthermore, interestingly, the movie ends in a very strange position where the viewer is left unanswered as to what just happened. This last scene leaves the audience in a position of inevitability and helplessness which is the core principle of cosmic horror (Riley, 2018) linking it back to Lovecraftian Horror.

Nevertheless, The new “Post Horror” films seemed to stress the conflict within oneself and be reflective on modern social issues. More than a complete re branding of the horror genre. In this sense, the term can stay but the meaning of what post horror constitutes continuously shifts and changes.

References:

Hereditary, (2018). The Movie: Hereditary [Class Material].

Jones, N. (2019). Post horror and the new weird [Lecture Material]. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz

Rose, S. (2017). How post-horror movies are taking over cinema. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jul/06/post-horror-films-scary-movies-ghost-story-it-comes-at-night

Riley. J (2018). ‘Hereditary’ Filmmaker Ari Aster Answers Burning Questions (Spoilers). Retrieved from: https://variety.com/2018/film/awards/hereditary-ari-aster-answers-burning-questions-1202841448/

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