Torture Porn:

  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?

The role of torture porn films according to Carroll (2003) is aimed to emphasize gore, torture, and violence in the form of mutilation. The torture porn franchise Saw and Hostel normalized torture where they attempt in describing torture porn as a sub-genre horror that contains imprisonment, mental and physical torture as well as abduction (Reyes, 2014). The main characters in the films are experiencing a great amount of suffrage and torture. The cause of torture and the effects of it is intentional in generating an impact on the audience as well as sending the underlying message. Reyes (2014) states the role of torture in Saw and Hostel is to directly attract viewers by pain and disgust to generate empathy.

The socio-political environment of the early 2000s would have also contributed towards the torture porn genre. This was an era where historically negative socio-political issues such as 9/11 and the Abu Gharib torture scandals made headlines all over the world. One can say the 9/11 incident was an act of terror to install “fear” for whatever cause they believed America was responsible for and in return the Abu-Gharib torture scandal was the actions of “revenge” in retaliation to the fear on the Pentagon and the World trade center massacres. Either way, the actions of both incidents are observed by Hilal 2017 as a violation of a series of universal human rights. Saw and Hostel depict torture as a method of inflicting fear and exacting retribution or fear.

  1. Rose (2017) defines this modern boom of prestige horror as “Post-Horror.” What does he mean by this term? Find and read some critiques on his definition online and respond to both. Do you think Post-Horror is a valid term or not? Using examples and references explain your position.

Rose (2017) suggests post horror as a new sub-genre of horror that breaks norms of convention and clichés of horror and reveals the beliefs and feelings of the movie directors. Here the director is free to redefine the extent to horror which appears in the movie instead of following the conventional super-natural and exorcism storylines where filmmakers create their own versions of horror using themes. Rose’s interpretation of post horror films is connected to J. A. Bridges who contends that some horror films that include auteurism.

I personally, do not watch a lot of post horror films, however, Brown (2019) suggests that post horror is a largely pointless term that derives from a lack of historical perspective on the genre. Viewers fail to become socially aware of post horror films that have existed since the early days and the past films contain more experimental content that has expanded the language of cinema. On the other hand, Rose only gives a token of the transgressive nature as a genre. Brown (2019) also states that the history of horror as a peak of the cultural boundaries society has been hiding behind the scenes that society does not want to address.


Brown, M (2019) The problem with post horror. Retrieved from https://overland.org.au/2019/05/the-problem-with-post-horror/

Carrol, N. (2003). The nature of horror: In The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart. Retrieved from https://blacboard.aut.ac.nz

Reyes, X. A. (2014). Body Gothic: Corporeal Transgression in Contemporary Literature and Horror Film. Wales: University of Wales Press.

Rose, G. (2017). How post-horror movies are taking over cinemas. The Guardian. Retrieved August 10, 2019 from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jul/06/post-horror-films-scary-movies-ghost-story-it-comes-at-night

3. Carroll (2003) and King (2010) discuss how the “monster” is really a defining feature of a horror story. Using references, explain in your own words how a monster in horror differentiates from monsters in other popular genres.

Jekyll and Hyde

Carrol (2003) believes that the ‘monster’ in horror films are meant to create a relationship between the characters on screen and the audience viewing the film; causing the audience to essentially become connected to the emotional responses of the characters, feeling what they are feeling n response to the ‘monster’ causing similar reactions to the ‘monster’ but not the same reaction. for example the audience could feel nausia, become repulsed, frightened; but not be displaying the same behaivour of the character who may be screaming hysterically and running away. the audience is aware of the fact that the situation in the film is fiction and it is real for the characters on screen. we feel reactions to the characters situation that they are not themselves able to feel in their present state for example when we feel suspensful and on the edge of our seats while the hero of the film is in a fight for their life; the hero is not feeling the emotions of the audience, they would be in a suspenseful situation having feelings of fear, courage, etc. therefore Carrol states that we have a reaction to the situation but not the exact same as the characters.

” If Aristotle is right about catharsis, for example, the emotional state of the audience does not double that of King Oedipus at the end of the play of the same name. Nor are we jealous, when Othello is. Also, when a comic character takes a pratfall, he hardly feels joyous, though we do. And though we feel suspense when the hero rushes to save the heroine tied to the railroad tracks he cannot afford to indulge such an emotion.” (Carrol, 2003).

Image result for dracula

whenever we hear the word monster, many archetypes come to mind. the most famous of which being the Romanian Vampire king, Count Dracula. My research has shown that Bram Stoker based his Dracula on a real life Count in history; a man who had a real taste for human blood. Vlad the impaler who was born in the region of Romania now known as Transylvania in 1431 A.D. there was a legend about Vlad III that was spread around years after his death that he invited a group of people to a feast at his home and then had them impaled and then dined on his dinner with their bodies scattered around him. Stephen King writes about how he used parts of his favorite scenes in Bram Skoker’s Dracula to write parts of his books.

Week 3: A history of Modern Horror

Question 1: King (2010) describes Horror as being defined through three basic elements. Explain, using references, what these three elements are. Think of a horror story you’ve read/watched/heard that makes use of all three of these elements and show how King’s definition is at play in that narrative

Horror movies and stories are regarded as always being a popular genre, although the subject and extent of the storyline shifts every so often as 10 to 20 years allowing for a new cycle of horror to arise (King, 2010). The first element of the horror genre identified by King is that which deals with the political and economic strains of a specific time. Books and movies are in turn written and directed to reflect the common anxieties experienced by society. An example of this is the horror movies that were popular in the 1970’s such as the haunted house horror that depicted the anxieties around class mortgage and equity that were affecting the average American household. Hendrix (2017) states the ’70s was an era of growing inflation and high-interest rates, which meant new homeowners during this time feared unimaginably was an icy house with a satanic voice that demanded them to “Get out”.

The second element of horror is the element of allegory. King (2010) states “an allegory is there only because it is built-in, a given, impossible to escape. The horror movie is portrayed in a way that is symbolic of the matters society feels under pressure to admit or address. It displays what society fear of happening, expressing to challenge or question the status quo both in a positive and negative manner. The horror films are created to allow for the viewer to conform to deviant behavior, suggesting the idea that becoming bad is not actually bad. If anything, the horror means it is ok to allow one to give in to fear or even join a mob (King, 2010). The allegory in a horror movie gives the viewer more than one interpretation of the storyline, for instance, the monster in “The Void” was a doctor, which may act as a warning sign that allows for the viewer to rethink the credentials of their current doctors.

The last of the three is the very fact of a monster is present. And each monster is created differently and specifically to suit each genre (Carroll, 2003). So, one can say monsters can also be allegorical as a symbol of horror (King, 2010). However, not all monsters are created to be evil like the Ogre Shrek in the “Shrek” movie who proves to humans he is not actually as bad as they perceive him to be and actually lives a similar lifestyle by marrying Princess Fiona and having a family.


Carrol, N. (2003). The nature of horror: In The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart. Retrieved from https://blacboard.aut.ac.nz

King, S. (2010). Danse macabre. United States, NY: Gallery Publishing Group.

The Void. (2016). The Void. Study Material

Week 4 – Post Horror & Torture Porn

Rose (2017) defines this modern boom of prestige horror as “Post-Horror.” What does he mean by this term? Find and read some critiques on his definition online and respond to both. Do you think Post-Horror is a valid term or not? Using examples and references explain your position.

With films such as It Comes at Night straying from many of the tropes and conventions audiences are accustomed to seeing from the horror genre. Film critic Steve Rose coined the term “post-horror” in an attempt at defining this shift. According to Rose (2017), post-horror avoids relying on tropes that have become almost synonymous with the genre. Instead of jump scares or the kind of graphic violence which saw a resurgence thanks in part due to horror films released in the early 2000s (Reyes, 2014). Post-horror plays with these expectations (sometimes unintentionally through marketing) and instead explores the horrors humans are capable of. Rather than some titular creature a title such as It Comes at Night would suggest. In this case, the film can be described as an exploration of the anxieties being in a post-apocalyptic world would bring. Whilst the contagion the film’s setting is framed around is undoubtedly an important aspect. The film uses it to develop believable scenarios for the characters to react to (at least by horror film standards) instead of using it as a means of producing endless undead/zombie fodder.

Whilst it isn’t necessarily the most accurate method of gauging public opinion on the subject. Discussion on the popular website Reddit would suggest that many see the term as an attempt at defending these films from criticism and the divisive opinions these films have received from general audiences. With some referring to Rose’s piece as a meaningless and nonsensical take from a “hipster’. While others have cited that some of what is described in Rose’s piece has always been present or important in horror fiction. With the only difference being these recent films managing to find widespread success (at least commercially) when compared with their predecessors (Brown, 2019).

Personally, I can sort of understand where both parties are coming from. If one looks at the user reviews of the above film on review aggregators such as Metacritic. A large number of them express disappointment due to expectations set by the positive critical reception the film garnered prior to release, as well as advertising that would give the impression that the film would be more in line with popular (horror) films of the past (Metacritic, 2017). On one hand you have a significant portion of the audience who feel deceived, and film critics on the other trying to justify why they liked such films.

With that said, I view post-horror as a valid way to describe this era of horror. However, for a genre that is sometimes cited as the most profitable in film. It’s likely that another term will replace it. As the term “post-horror” would arguably have elitist or gatekeeping connotations if reception on reddit is an indicator of things.

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?

At a glance, one could assume that the graphic violence and themes (often referred to as torture porn) prominent in the Hostel and Saw franchises are simply a means of evoking reactions from viewers. Xavier Aldana Reyes, an academic in both film and literature studies, views torture porn’s purpose in these films differently.

In the case of the original Hostel, Reyes (2014) describes torture porn as a way for the European inhabitants of Hostel’s world to flip the power dynamic on the unsuspecting American tourists. A power dynamic established early in the film as the lead characters (Paxton and Josh) are experiencing Amsterdam’s nightlife for the first time. Where it is made apparent that their trip is in part motivated by the allure of romantic partners and casual sex. This inherently objectifies the women of these countries and gives additional purpose to the activities of the film’s antagonists, the Elite Hunting Club (EHC).

While the EHC’s main purpose is to provide subjects for its members to fulfil their sadistic desires and needs on. Intentionally or unintentionally, this also results in the film’s leads becoming objectified themselves. Taking away the control and rights they have over their bodies. A role reversal of sorts from when Paxton refers to a sex worker as a “fuckin hog”.

In the case of Saw though, its antagonist Jigsaw acts as a sort of moral vigilante or judge throughout the franchise, choosing to put his victims in situations where they must inflict self-harm to live or proceed further in his games. With each body part maimed, amputated or harmed having an association or link with the victim’s perceived wrongdoing. Torture porn is essentially used by Jigsaw as a means of ridding his victims of their supposed sins (Reyes, 2014).

With regards to how these purposes could be related to current events of the time such as the terrorist attacks of September 11. The argument could be made that Hostel exploits the post 9/11 psyche of the western world and uses this inherit fear of foreign others in a similar manner expressed by Reyes (2014, p. 128) when discussing Zac Berman’s Borderland and its reinvention of the hillbilly tradition in horror.


Brown, M. (2019, May 15). The problem with ‘post-horror?. Retrieved from https://overland.org.au/2019/05/the-problem-with-post-horror/

Metacritic. (2017). It comes at night – User reviews. Retrieved September 2, 2019, from https://www.metacritic.com/movie/it-comes-at-night/user-reviews

Reyes, X. A. (2014). Torture porn. In Body gothic: Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film (pp. 122-143). Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Rose, S. (2017, July 6). 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

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?


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.


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. 


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.


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/

Week 4 Horror Responses

Question for 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?

According to Keetley (2016), James Wan’s Saw and Eli Roth’s Hostel are certainly remarking on September 11th’s terror as well as both of the films were filmed in the devastated factories and warehouses. Moreover, both of the films were focusing on manifest the men’s tortured bodies and death (Keetley, 2016). Similarly, Reyes (2012) cited Noel Carroll, and suggested that the genre of torture porn could create “fear, shock and disgust” without a monstrous figure (Reyes, 2012, p. 6). Therefore, I personally believe the role of torture in torture porn is to stimulate primitive fear by demonstrating mutilated or disfigured human body.

Moreover, according to Reyes (2014), “Claustrophobia” is underlined by the continuous “close-ups on the bodies of the victims” (Reyes, 2014, p.136). When it comes to the meaning of somebody tortured by something, the victims are usually locked up in a room or tied up somewhere which made them feel like psychologically unstable. Thus, people could get claustrophobia by either directly or indirectly experiencing this kind of torture. In addition, in the torture porn, claustrophobia could play its role by giving a tension before something is actually revealing its intimidate figure.

Since thousands of American people died or injured, lost some of their body parts because of the 9/11 terror, damaged body became the material of horror film because people were could not get away from the fear of terrorism. No one knew that the biggest aircraft terror will be happening in the peaceful morning. In addition, Hilal (2017) explained that the Abu Ghraib notorious torture scandal was committed by U.S. prison guards there who were brutally torture the Iraq prisoners’ bodies and took the videos of woman prisoners’ bodies while they were raped by the prison guards. The humiliation of Abu Ghraib prisoners happened because of “Islamophobia” which was occurred after 9/11. American people wanted to revenge the Muslim (Hilal, 2017).  Then, the fear of immoral torture of body scared people since ‘damaged’ body was a kind of trauma at that time and still, it is. Therefore, the genre of torture porn became a franchise.

Socio-politically, the capitalism was affect early 21st century world such as the political establishments’ rampages by using their asset (Piketty, 2014). They instigated gangsters to destroy their enemies. Similarly, the movie Hostel, the psycho, rich clients pay some bills to torture and kill the tourists for fun. Therefore, the fact that mysterious disappearances might be related to someone who have absolute power also might have accelerated the birth of torture porn.


Hilal, M. (2017, September 28). Abu Ghraib: The legacy of torture in the war on terror. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/abu-ghraib-legacy-torture-war-terror-170928154012053.html

Keetley, D. (2016, November 15). Saw, Hostel, and the Death of Manufacturing. Retrieved September 8, 2019, from http://www.horrorhomeroom.com/saw-hostel-death-of-manufacturing/

Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the 21st century. Inequality in the 21st Century, p.8. Retrieved from https://dowbor.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/14Thomas-Piketty.pdf

Reyes, X.A. (2012). ‘Beyond psychoanalysis: Post-millennial horror film and affect theory’. Horror Studies, 3(2), pp.243–261. https://doi.org/10.1386/host.3.2.243_1

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

Question for Post Horror:

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.

Rose (2018) describes post horror as the new horror genre that have replaced jump-scare feature in the previous horror genre and added more realistic figures such as the different kinds of relationship between family members. Also, the young auteurs are finding the way to impress the audiences with the low budget (Rose, 2018).

I believe that the definition of “prestige horror” could differ depending on how audiences and critics are impressed by either different and new way to scare people. Ari Aster’s Hereditary (2018) contains those new features such as cursed family, tragic family tradition, as well as even unknown, supernatural threats which can be included into cosmic horror. Hereditary also has earned $44 million in the United States and Canada, and $35.3 million in other countries which is total gross of $79.3 million, while a production budget was $10 million (Box Office Mojo, 2018).

Therefore, Hereditary deserves the title of “prestige horror”. Besides, Hereditary hints audiences by using frequent foreshadows such as close-up towards pigeon’s decapitated head which was the foreshadowing of Charlie’s death – I did not realise this as the foreshadowing when I first saw this movie, because I thought Charlie will be the main protagonist who will solve this mysterious and dismal family atmosphere. Therefore, I still cannot forget Charlie’s dreadful death. Idika (2018) analyses Charlie’s death as “orchestrated” because the demon, Paimon was inside Charlie’s soul and body at first. However, Paimon wanted the male host which explained as the reason why Charlie’s brother, Peter goes through a ritual to be the real Paimon itself, one of the 72 demons appear in “Lemegeton” at the end of the movie. I did not recognise Paimon has its own sigil, and this signature was engraved on the telephone pole. This scene also proves that Charlie’s death was scheduled by demonic being. Moreover, Charlie’s grandmother’s and her mother’s necklaces symbolises the Paimon’s mythological character. Besides, Charlie’s clicking sound of her tongue is known as the tick of Paimon. Idika (2018) cites Ari Aster that “the headless body” belongs to no one but Paimon. That is why Charlie’s grandmother’s body was in the attic as well as Annie’s (Charlie’s mother) body which was floating towards the place where the ritual for Peter (Paimon) was enacted (Idika, 2018).

These features enhance the quality of horror movie not just by jump scaring people to make them tense and feel uncomfortable, but make them lingered by the contents of the movie by using the mythological materials as well as stimulating the fundamental emotion towards family and family bond.


Box Office Mojo. (2018, June 8). Hereditary (2018). Retrieved September 10, 2019, from https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=a24horrora.htm

Idika, N. (2018, June 19). 11 Horrifying clues and hidden meanings in ‘Hereditary’ that you 100% missed. Retrieved from https://www.popbuzz.com/tv-film/features/hereditary-meaning-paimon/

Rose, S. (2018, February 22). 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

Post Horror & Torture Porn

Torture Porn

Sadomasochistic Phenomena and 9/11

In the aftermath of 9/11, Americans became aware of a significant new reality: there was 9-11pican enemy at the gates and they had a bone to pick. The events of Abu Grahib, the new popularity of suicide bombings and the horrific wave of filmed beheadings on the internet and the televised terrors of the Taliban put the destruction of American bodies at the front of the media cycle (Ignatieff, 2004). After a decade of relative peace, America was plunged into a war that made use of the media in new and bloody ways – and in Hollywood films like Saw and Hostel began to reflect a bleak and nihilistic world. According to Amanda Alvarado, (2007), this is no coincidence.

download (2)The early 2000s were time fraught with fears about globalism, and isolationism. American tourists, in many movies, live a fantasy of a disinhibited Europe, where they can be free to do drugs, have casual sex, and let go of some of the inhibitions that they should keep firmly tucked away whilst at home. The movie Euro Trip (2004) is almost parodied by Hostel,  characters in Euro Trip meet Europeans of varying degrees of silliness, who are at the end of the day, kind hearted and sweet. In Hostel, the Americans find themselves the targets of extreme animosity. Any kindness shown to them is only a tool of manipulation in service of the torture and dismemberment that is the ultimate goal.

It is possible that this American made film is reflective of a guilt the nation of America


Chris Bartlett’s Photographs, New York, 2019


was feeling (Alvarado, 2007). Many were against the war in Iraq and their republican led government (Alasdair, 2019). After the leaking of images from Abu Grahib – pictures of Americans smiling while subjecting prisoners to grotesque physical and psychological punishment, America was left reeling. As photographer Chris Bartlett, rather miserably, put it, “The camera became a torture instrument” (Alasdair, 2019), and this became true not just in real life, but in Hollywood too. As Alvarado posits, horror movies in a post 9/11 Hollywood don’t muchneed to set up the rules of the filmic world, they are already set in the real world – the real world is bleak and horrid enough.  Indeed, in Hostel II (2006), the American Elite are among those torturing American bodies, objectifying them and using them in a reflection of the nihilistic view of the world the franchise poses; at this point, human bodies are pawns in

download (1)

a bloody game won by the highest bidder. The premise of Saw and its sequels is that people must choose whether they die or cause themselves grievous bodily harm. The destruction of the body comes from the admission that one has done wrong and deserves to lose the privilege of having a functioning body. As Reyes (2014), says “torture porn negotiates corporeal anxieties at both superficial and metaphorical levels.”


What does it all equal? A Sadomasochistic enjoyment of a new kind of catharsis, one that is set in a world that couldn’t take the lens off the “corporeal anxieties” of the 21st century? Perhaps. Or perhaps the world is too nihilistic to care what it all means. Now, eighteen years after the 9/11 attacks, torture porn has dropped from the mainstream, and the world is still fraught with horrors – but Alvarado (2007) points out that a nihilistic viewpoint is not helpful in the long term, and at its core, fear is uncontrollable. Perhaps the torture porn phenomenon served the world its worst fears, and in a larger cultural sense, allowed the mainstream to move past the fears.



Ignatieff, M. (November, 2004). The Terrorist as Auteur. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/movies/the-terrorist-as-auteur.html

Alvarado, A. (August, 2007). Living in Terror: Post 9/11 Horror Films. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/20163

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

Alasdair, S. (April, 2019). 15 years later: Abu Ghraib and the faces of torture in Iraq. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/15-years-later-abu-ghraib-and-the-faces-of-torture-in-iraq-1.854512

Post-Horror (Question 2)

Is the term “Post-horror” an attempt to distance “cheap” horror movies from highbrow art?

Post modernism, while hard to define is, in general, about defying conventions. It’s moreGet_Out_poster about asking questions than it is about standard narratives; it dissects tropes and breaks boundaries (Hull, 2017). Some even say that Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017) was more political drama than horror movie (Rose, 2017). Understandably, moviemakers can feel a bit insulted about the attempt to disassociate literary and academic ideas from pop culture – as if meaningful discourse is, somehow, only possible in highbrow art. However, in the last few years, we’ve seen horror movies defy this boundary placed on them by genre conventions.

tmp_1k627H_4e8cf868a700cd77_MCDHERE_EC082In Hereditary (2018) a light is shone on the horror of grief and trauma in a family, their isolation leaving them open to a terrifying fate. Post-horror films like Us (2019) and Get Out talk about race and class inequality; to watch these movies without pondering the social economic state that they are describing is impossible, which was writer Jordan Peele’s intention (Zinoman, 2017). In Get Out, black bodies are literally objectified, turned into commodities, and the traditional trope of a good white family is turned on its head, becoming the monsters that the hero must defeat. In Us, an upper-middle class black family is terrorised by exact copies of themselves living in misery underground. The final twist of the movie forces its audience to reconsider their perception of protagonist and antagonist.

Even the filmic language of post-horror tends to be unusual or unconventional. Ari Aster, tmp1063532286768578563writer of Hereditary, chooses angles that frame his actors like dolls in a doll house, mimicking the actual miniature sets in the world of the film, giving the characters a helplessness, a sort of God’s eye view reminiscent of cosmic horror. In an interview, Aster said that he wanted to make the movie feel like the family was being watched, as though somebody else was pulling the strings (Kohn, 2018). The way the camera moves between the doll-like miniatures and the house itself, while not entirely new – think Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) – creates a filmic atmosphere quite zTJ3FiB_VSHlsingular to Hereditary (Raup, 2018).

Similar techniques can be found in the series The Haunting of Hill House (2018), where five children live with deep trauma after the suicide of their mother. The children, fully grown up, have to deal with literal and figurative ghosts representing each of their different responses to their pain. The argument -that difficult topics like these are new to the genre- is a shaky one. As some say, these elements were always part of horror (Muncer, 2018). Stephen King wrote about the difficulties of abuse and adolescence in his book It (1977). Rosemary’s Baby (1968) dealt with the fear of modern motherhood years ago, and Silence of the Lambs (1991) with its themes about womanhood, identity, and trauma was nominated for an Oscar. Horror has always been a post-modern medium, so why call anything Post-Horror?

Well, for one thing, there’s a very obvious difference between the products one would 220px-A_Nightmare_on_Elm_Street_(1984)_theatrical_postercall “post-horror” and just “horror.” It’s very clear to any audience that Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is not post horror. It doesn’t change convention, it relies on jump scares and cares little for character relationships. That doesn’t negate it’s validity in popular culture, but the point is that it’s not trying to make the audience think deeply on a difficult, more literary topic. When you describe something as post-horror, you outline what will be a part of it, and what wont. Perhaps to call films post-horror sounds a little elitist, but to ignore the term altogether is to ignore a very real trend toward changes in horror as a narrative medium.


Hull, J. R. (2017). Get Out. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://narrativefirst.com/analysis/get-out

Rose, S. (July, 2017). How post-horror movies are taking over cinema. Retrieved August 23, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jul/06/post-horror-films-scary-movies-ghost-story-it-comes-at-night

Zinoman, J. (February, 2017). Jordan Peele on a Truly Terrifying Monster: Racism. Retrieved August 25, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/movies/jordan-peele-interview-get-out.html

Kohn, E. (June, 2018). ‘Hereditary’: The Year’s Scariest Movie Required Years to Make and Painful Experiences No One Will Discuss. Retrieved August 25, 2019, from https://www.indiewire.com/2018/06/hereditary-ari-aster-interview-inspiration-history-1201972348/

Raup, J. (June, 2018). Ari Aster | Hereditary | Film Comment Talk. Retrieved August 25, 2019, from https://www.filmlinc.org/daily/post-type/videos/?

Muncer, M. (October, 2018). Horror & Post Horror: Film 2018. Retrieved August 25, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYn3swCLimI


Torture porn and post-horror and so on and so forth.

These days we live in a very disturbed society, I myself having, at only the ripe old age of four having watched over three thousand people murdered on television. After that, I was raised in a fairly violent media age and in the shadow of constant wars and a constant increase of terrorism.

All of this as disturbing and terrifying as it is ripe for the horror genre to thrive. The modern world has many a monster hiding in its closet and the thing about monsters in closets is that we always want to peek through the creak in the door. We want to see it from a safe distance.

Let’s talk for a second about what some call “enhanced interrogation”, what you and I might call torture. As the years rolled on since 9/11 the Bush administration began to take more and more drastic measures to get information from suspected terrorists to lead to the capture of other terror cells (Worthington, 2018). Unfortunately, I would say, many of them were innocent, despite this, it would continue under ex-president Barak Obama and is still policy to this day under President Trump. While I personally do not believe that torture against anyone is effective or even morally justifiable that is not the debate I intend to have here. The reason I bring this up is that torture is a terrifying prospect and very real part of the world we live in today, even if we the average law-abiding citizens of New Zealand are not under any particular threat of it. As such it becomes a fear that artists decide they wish to speak about and thus it finds its way into horror. The thing about torture though is that it’s very hard to justify it to an audience even in fiction, especially when it comes to what has been dubbed ‘torture porn’. Take Saw, for example, the serial killer Jigsaw kidnapping people who he feels have sinned in some fashion and making them undergo horrifying acts of self-harm in order to be freed from his circus of blood if they refuse, they die. What a choice. The important difference, however, in my opinion, is that Jigsaw’s victims have generally committed some crime for which they are now being punished, the proportionate response debate notwithstanding. However, in my opinion, the people tortured using enhanced interrogation policies were largely innocent and simply admitted to crimes they had not committed in order to make the pain stop.

I think a better allegory for the way the torture of real-life tends to go is in BioShock Infinite: Burial at sea episode one. Here the torture is not particularly gory but is in my honest opinion more effective. Elizabeth, to keep a young girl out of the hands of the villainous Atlas is tied to a chair and from a first-person perspective, we see him push a scalpel up and over her eye before giving it a light tap with a hammer. There is a loud unsettling noise and a purple blotch that goes over the screen as it begins to move through her skull with each strike, about to reach her brain and lobotomize her. Atlas is in our face the entire time and is taunting Elizabeth while demanding the girl’s location, but Elizabeth manages to use her wits to save the girl. I would argue this works better not despite the lack of gore, not a single drop of blood is shed, but because of it. Sometimes less is more and the torture of an innocent person who ultimately wins out, in the end, can be both more terrifying and more and satisfying.

Horror like any genre, popular or otherwise, needs to evolve and horror is doing so with has been dubbed ‘post-horror’.

Based on my reading of Rose’s article, this is my idea of what post-horror is (Rose, 2018)

Horror generally is a metaphor for some kind of societal fear. Lovecraft is the fear of unimportance and Frankenstein (Shelley, 1869) is the fear of science gone awry, etc.

Post-horror films are a bit different. Instead of focusing on metaphors for things in the real world, they instead are much more personal. Often being written around the personal anxieties of the person behind it. Very telling of what they think about and what’s often on their minds.

Often times the horror is not connected to your typical horror tropes like jump scares and creepy old houses. However, the issue with this is that horror audiences have come to expect certain things from horror movies to such a degree that it is starting to hurt post-horror, many post-horror films being lambasted by audiences who expected something different.

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly the most popular, for that exact reason. The problem with subverting expectations and the birth of any emergent genre or subgenre is that there is always pushback against it that is often not as a result of genuine flaws as much as marketing that is seen as dishonest when it is often down to bewildered marketing teams not really knowing what to do.

The thing I really like about this concept, however, is the possibilities it unearths. You could argue that on some level one of my favourite franchises unintentionally falls into it. That being John Wick.

The fear for me here is not of international organizations of assassins paying each other to get into back rooms with specially minted gold coins, although they may well exist, it’s the fear of how little can push a person to commit horrible atrocities. In the first movie, John’s dog is killed and his car is stolen not long after his dog dies of unrelated causes. Because of this, he murders 70 people without mercy or remorse. The last words of one of his victims being “It was just a fucking-” before being cut off by John emptying his skull with one well-placed shot. This is not John’s first set of murders either, he had at one point been known as the ‘baba yaga’, meaning the ‘boogeyman’ by the Russian mobsters that formally employed him. Not only that he had also been a professional assassin with god only knows how many lives taken by him. At least five of them with pencils that we know of. The thing about John, however, is that he’s kind of a regular dude. A guy pushed too far who then goes on to kill hundreds of people across three films. To me that is terrifying. If more so conceptually than in terms of exposing heads and alien babies tearing through people’s ribcages. But horror is subjective and that’s what makes it so interesting (Stahelski, 2014).

Rose, S. (2018, February 22). 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

Shelley, M. W. (1869). Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus.

Stahelski, C. (Director). (2014). John Wick [Motion picture]. USA: Thunder Road.

Worthington, A. (2018, February 7). Exactly 16 Years Ago, George W. Bush Opened the Floodgates to Torture at Guantánamo. Retrieved from https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/02/07/exactly-16-years-ago-george-w-bush-opened-floodgates-torture-guantanamo

Irrational games. (2014). BioShock Infinite: Burial at sea – Episode 2 [Video game]. Novato, CA: 2k ganes.

Torture Porn + Post-Horror Week 4


According to Reyes, 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?

Reyes (2014, p. 128) identifies Hostel as one of the most profitable and important among a wave of Hollywood horror films which followed Americans traveling abroad in search of “strong experiences, exotics sights or illicit pleasures” only to find themselves at the mercy of killers, torturers and various other misfortunes. While Hostel portrays its protagonists as victims of their own hubris it still remains sympathetic to the victims, as the tension is derived from whether they will survive or escape torture (Neroni, 2015). This role-reversal between perpetrator and victim is a common trope in horror, and holds particular relevance to the socio-political landscape of the time – visual parallels are drawn between the brothel the protagonists visit for sex tourism in the beginning of the film and the factory used for torture. The real life sex trade and the imaginary torture industry both deal in flesh, and the two are equated within the film. “Underscoring all actions in the Hostel franchise is an extreme capitalist – often retributive – ethos that renders everyone interchangeable and reduces everything to its monetary value.” (Reyes, 2015, p.30)

Saw differs greatly in execution, building on serial killer films of the 1990s that was intensely focused on the murder method of Jigsaw, the primary antagonist, who creates mechanical traps and devices to force p. Jigsaw believes that torture and pain are a redemptive force, although his methods yield zero results – even the one person who does survive devotes her life to him, living not for herself but for the person who tortured her, and dying in the third film (Neroni, 2015). The injuries incurred from surviving Jigsaw’s games would be enough to severely impair their quality of life and leave them isolated from society (Reyes, 2014). After the first film the sequels dived deeper into spectacle, forgoing its psychological aspects to instead display increasingly complex torture devices. This is closer to the intended use of torture for information and confession, but Jigsaw only deals further psychological and physical damage until they die, with no satisfaction for torturer or the tortured – aside from the former’s sadistic desires. Jigsaw’s “fantasy of transcendence” is a lie (Reyes, 2015, p. 141). There is no deeper meaning to torture and attempting to construct it as a noble act is simply a justification for sadism.

While horror films had used torture extensively before what really defines torture porn of the 2000s is its reactive nature to 9-11 and Abu Ghraib prison scandal, both of which revealed a darker side to the United States of America’s Government and policy. Torture was not only seeing a boom in horror but found itself into thrillers on television such as the show 24, which promoted what Neroni (2015, p. 27) calls the “contemporary torture fantasy”, in which torture is normalized as a tool in pursuit of the greater good. Torture was given euphemistic terms such as “enhanced interrogation techniques, or outsourced to other countries in order to distance the Government from sanctioned torture. (Kerner, 2015) The Abu Ghraib photos challenge this fantasy, as it is clear from reports and photos that the American soldiers were smiling as they tortured, not pursuing some grand truth or world-saving secret.

The Hostel franchise acts as an exploration of post-911 anxieties about the world outside of America and the West – Kerner (2015) notes that in real life many CIA “black sites” are suspected to be located in Eastern Europe – and the glee with which American soldiers violated prisoners’ human rights for pleasure. In some ways Jigsaw’s machines are the ideal form of torture that the “contemporary torture fantasy” purported to be – an impersonal judge forcing confessions out of their victims, in addition to forcing them to participate in their own mutilation as penance (Reyes, 2014). However, the fact remains that the machines were constructed by another human being who cannot be removed from the equation.

Neroni (2015, p. 91) states that “All torture porn films take torture out of the realm of immediate national need and place it in a more individual and personal level”. While as films they can only act as a substitute for the non-vicarious experience of pain, torture porn can help create empathy with the victims of torture and speaks to a wider cultural shift in America’s (and the Western world in general’s) view of it. Viewers consider why the torturer smiles, how effective torture truly is at obtaining information and what is like to know the people tortured in the film are very much like themselves.


  1. Rose (2017) defines this modern boom of prestige horror as “Post-Horror.” What does he mean by this term? Find and read some critiques on his definition online and respond to both. Do you think Post-Horror is a valid term or not? Using examples and references explain your position.

Rose (2017) does not offer a particularly clear cut definition of post-horror but suggests it could be a new subgenre of horror which is unconventional, mainly made up of auteur-driven indie films with low budgets which often divide audiences and critics. I would contend this more a consequence of misleading marketing rather than a dichotomy between how critics judge a film and how the average moviegoer consumes them. However, Rose (2017) claims these films are “reacting against” a mass market of low-budget horror films created by highly profitable successes such as Split or Get Out.

I am at a disadvantage as I do not consume much horror media but Rose’s definition of horror itself seems too limited in scope. At one point in the article he claims that horror is bound by rules and tropes and that post-horror throws off “cast-iron conventions”, suggesting that horror is inherently formulaic. To me this seems equivalent to judging a genre by its worst or least interesting work and creating an unnecessary label to separate it from the films Rose approves of.

Brown (2019) suggests that post-horror is a largely pointless term that stems from a lack of historical perspective on the genre, as people fail to acknowledge that socially aware horror films have existed since the early day and that most post-horror are nowhere near as experimental as what has come before – films such as Eraserhead and Suspiria have “expanded the language of cinema”, and socially aware horror is nothing new. He also notes another recurring aspect in films labelled post-horror is the focus on psychological realism and the domestic, harkening back to the nineteenth-century realist novel. However, “Allegiance to such modes of storytelling not only skip twentieth- and twenty-first-century artistic innovations but also fail to recognise the unique contributions of horror to the history of cinema.” Rose only gives a token acknowledgement of horror’s transgressive nature as a genre, but has a reductive view of it overall. When he encounters horror films which appeal to his sensibilities as a critic he qualifies them instead of simply accepting them as horror. An overview of horror’s history reveals that these films are arguably not even particularly unlikely outliers.

However, Rose is defining post-horror as something that is largely defined by our current time period in reaction to today’s audiences. In that sense the term makes more sense, but it does overstate the subversive qualities post-horror films possess in relation to horror’s larger canon. I do not have the knowledge to say whether or not there are other horror films today which resist categorization of both the typical post-horror mould or mainstream market appeal.

This will be my most speculative claim but there also seems to be an unspoken rule that Rose is using quality as an indicator – he gives little criticism of the films he considers post-horror and places an emphasis on the film’s philosophical subject matter as one of their defining characteristics, and implies they are more worthy as art with other horror films simply being there to simply frighten people. Quality is a dangerous qualifier for a genre to include because it is highly subjective. Including it in the definition of post-horror muddies the discourse and encourages elitistism (whereas even a film like the 2018 Slenderman can be reviled by critics and audiences alike and still find itself in the horror genre alongside a diverse and beloved catalogue of films as The Thing, Halloween and The Shining). Rose (2017) never outright states it because the idea of post-horror is still quite loose, but it speaks to his biases as a critic. I think it is erroneous to assume something must be good to even find value in it as a cultural resource, but that is another topic.

Overall I think Rose has placed too much emphasis on a false dichotomy between critic and moviegoer based on first impressions made by both. It is only natural that people’s expectations affect their enjoyment of a film. The fact that critics and audiences are divided seems to be a consequence of bad marketing rather than a deliberate attempt to defy conventions. Like Brown (2019) I do not think it can be denied that the films labelled “post-horror” share many elements, and I think as a concept it has some use as a way to describe the current crop of horror films which do not fit the mainstream. It has value as a subgenre but the assertion that it is breaking new ground is a spurious one.



Reference List


Brown, M. (2019). The problem with post-horror. Retrieved from https://overland.org.au/2019/05/the-problem-with-post-horror/


Carroll, N. (2003). The philosophy of horror : Or, paradoxes of the heart. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com


Kerner, A. M. (2015). Torture porn in the wake of 9/11 : Horror, exploitation, and the cinema of sensation. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com


Neroni, H. (2015). The subject of torture : Psychoanalysis and biopolitics in television and film. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com


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


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


Dominic McAlpine



The role of torture in the Saw and Hostel film franchises is to play on the viewers fears over the human body, on a physical and metaphorical level. These fears are linked to the wider societal fears of the time, following the terrorism and torture scandals of the early 2000s. 

In the Saw franchise, the use of torture plays on the idea of justice and punishment. The torture victims of Saw are being put through a sadistic atonement process which will only end by mutilating their body or death. The role of torture here is to push audiences to question the morality of torture. There is context and reason given to each torture a victim has to endure, so the audience understand these are not random attacks. Therefore, as the torture was an consequential punishment based on morality, it raised the question whether torture could be justified. Wilson (2005) claims that, the dynamic camera work and editing of these films blurred viewpoints, literally and morally. Audiences were not able to be by-standers, they were both the torturer and the tortured. The unavoidable violence and torture used in the Saw series questions the audiences moral standpoint on this issue.

In the Hostel series torture is used as a metaphor for the exploitive nature of large corporations (Eggerton, 2010). In the Hostel series, victims are abducted and then sold to the rich as essentially a piece of meat they can do anything to. They are objectifying the human body and reducing it to nothing more than a commodity. It begs the audience to ask themselves, where do we draw the line at what we can purchase? But also, what is the true cost of the products and services we buy? Hostel repositions torture from a form of intelligence gathering, to nothing more than a hobby for the excessively wealthy (Reyes, 2014). By giving both the torturers and victims a face, it also pushes the agenda that this could be a reality. It is not faceless monster completing these atrocities, it is humans, just like the audience.  

According to Reyes (2014), torture became a significant part of horror in the mid-2000s. This surge in popularity can be linked to the socio-political environment of the time, when the horrific events of 9/11, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal as well as rumours of torture at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp were occuring. During this time, Western culture was being subjected to real life images of terror and torture that could not be dismissed or ignored. The shock value of seeing these terrible acts on screen brought fears around the human body and morality to the forefront of society. The fact that real life horror was clearly visible in society, allowed fictional horrors to push the boundaries of what is acceptable on screen but also society. Torture did not have to be implied off camera, it actually made it more believeable seeing it happen right in front of the audiences’ eyes (Reyes, 2014). Terror and torture had become part of mainstream media and horror capitlized on this financially and morally. That is a large reason the film franchises Saw and Hostel achieved so much commercial success during the mid-2000s. 


“Post-Horror” is a term that encompasses a series of recent horror films in a new subgenre of horror. According to Rose (2017) Post-horror films are defined by their lack of conventional horror elements, like jump-scares, dramatic evil monsters or the final surviving girl. Instead these films create suspense by not revealing all. They attempt to instill a sense of dread in audiences through atmosphere, character dialogue and other subtle hints of something else being presence. Horror films which fall under this category according to Rose (2017) include It Comes at Night (2017), A Ghost Story (2017) and The Witch (2015).  

The Post-horror label has been heavily critiqued and rejected by fans and critics alike. One of the main critiques of the Post-horror label is a disagreement to Rose (2017) suggesting horror is a rigid genre “governed by rules and codes” more so than any other genre. Edwards-Behi (2017) finds this classification both “incorrect and ignorant” as it fails to acknowledge the fact that, genre is only a framework. This means genres, are guidelines more than concrete definitions. Horror has redefined itself throughout its history more than any other genre. This is because horror has often been used a vessel to reflect societal fears, which have never stayed the same. 

Stewart (2017) suggests the label is elitist and comes out of a refusal by critics to accept horror as a high quality and purposeful genre, meaning any well received horror film must be categorized as something separate from just horror. Therefore, Post-horror is just a way to repackage horror for those who do not acknowledge the artistic value the genre. This can be seen by recent horror films like Get Out (2017) and Heredity (2018) being called a “social thriller” and “psychological family drama” respectively. According to Edwards-Behi (2017) the terms “social” and “family drama” are used as they apparently carry more weight in the cultural sphere than horror does. This is why many horror fans and critics are rejecting the term Post-horror as it seen disrespectful to the horror genre as a whole.

Despite films labelled as Post-horror by not having the horror conventions audiences have to expect, they are essentially still just horror films. The films which are being considered as Post-horror still share a lot of similarities with classic Horror titles. Heredity’s elements of dysfunctional family, body possession and paganism all feature heavily in previous horror films like The Exorcist (1973), Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Shining (1980). Even the racial issues of Get Out have also been previously explored in Night of the Living Dead (1968). At the core, horror films main purpose remains scaring the audience. The method of how they scare audiences has undoubtedly changed, but so it has in the past, numerous times.  Therefore, I don’t think the term Post-horror is necessary at this time.


Edwards-Behi, N. (2017). A Response to Post-Horror. Retrieved August 14, 2019 from https://www.walesartsreview.org/cinema-a-response-to-post-horror/

Eggerton, C. (2010). 100 Years of Horror: Culture Shock: The Influence of History on Horror. Retrieved on August 1, 2019, from https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/20853/100-years-of-horror-culture-shock-the-influence-of-history-on-horror/

Reyes, X. A. (2014). Body Gothic: Corporeal Transgression in Contemporary Literature and Horror Film. Wales: University of Wales Press.

Rose, G. (2017). How post-horror movies are taking over cinemas. The Guardian. Retrieved August 10, 2019 from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jul/06/post-horror-films-scary-movies-ghost-story-it-comes-at-night 

Stewart, T. (2017, July 8). Sorry, but “Post-horror” is just another unnecessary elitist label. [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.cybercraftvideo.com/blog/2017/7/8/sorry-but-post-horror-is-just-another-unnecessary-elitist-label

Wilson, K., (2005). Horror in History: A Decade by Decade Guide to the Horror Movie Genre. Retrieved August 2, 2019 from http://www.horrorfilmhistory.com/index.php?pageID=about