This semester I’m teaching a literature course called “Experiments in 21st Century Horror.” It meets M/W/F. To enrich the readings and discussions, I devote the Friday class to watching a short film. We just finished week five, so I thought I’d catalog the films we’ve screened so far.
As the reading list might suggest, I’m not interested in reifying the obvious. Horror, for me, is not a given genre that exists for us to study. Rather, it is a complex and complicated category for us to create. Thus, one of the central concerns of the course revolves around mapping horror’s boundaries, investigating it’s limits and testing it’s scope.
To begin the process of articulating the category of horror, we’ve looked at four critical approaches: “Absolutely Too Much” by Simon Critchley, “The Critique of Pure Horror” by Jason Zinoman, “The Definition of Horror” by Noël Carroll, and “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. These four essays provide a nice range of perspectives for us to construct a well-informed critical conversation into which we might situate ourselves. They also help to offer a context for considering the films that follow. A few of the salient ideas arising from these readings, which seem worth considering include: the relationship between “art horror” and “natural horror,” the necessity (or lack of necessity) of monsters to be supernatural, the relationship between horror and childhood, the role of “spectacle horror,” the relationship between audience and characters, the relationship between form and content, the affect of shock and disgust, and the power of excess. Just to name a few.
Directed by Ben Rivers
Directed by Peter Tscherkassky
Directed by David Lynch
Directed by Frans Zwartjes
Directed by Ryan Trecartin