Friday, 1 April 2022

Metamodern Slashers - Video and Article


Two updates to my ongoing research project on Metamodern Slasher films:

First, the video of my keynote at last year's Slasher Studies conference has been uploaded to YouTube: it is available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJZ8bjphP_A

Second, the first article from the project has just been published in Slovenian language in Kino. Here is a link to the abstract: https://e-kino.si/clanki/od-postmodernega-k-metamodernemu-slasherju/


Wednesday, 2 March 2022

New Article on Revenge and I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

My article "Appealin
g, Appalling: Morality and Revenge in I Spit on Your Grave (2010)" will be published later this year in the Quarterly Review of Film and Video. A pre-print version of the article is available here


Abstract

Despite being a prevalent theme in popular cinema, revenge has received little dedicated attention within film studies. The majority of research concerning the concept of revenge is located within moral philosophy, but that body of literature has been overlooked by film studies scholars. Philosophers routinely draw on filmic examples to illustrate their discussions of revenge, but those interpretations are commonly hindered by their authors’ inexperience with film studies’ analytical methods. This article seeks to bridge those gaps. The 2010 remake of I Spit on Your Grave is used as a case study to illustrate the benefits of an interdisciplinary engagement with revenge. Philosophical literature on the topic has routinely posited that revenge is either appealing or appalling, and that impasse has stifled conceptual understanding. The interdisciplinary approach employed here elucidates that revenge is simultaneously appealing and appalling; this dualistic nature is evident in I Spit on Your Grave since it is built into the narrative design. I conclude that an interdisciplinary approach to revenge has the potential to advance understanding of revenge-qua-concept both within films studies and philosophy.

Friday, 8 October 2021

New Chapter on the Elm Street Series

I have a chapter on the Elm Street series in the new Routledge edited collection Horror Franchise Cinema (ed. Mark McKenna and William Proctor)  - the title is “If Nancy Doesn’t Wake Up Screaming: The Elm Street Series as Recurring Nightmare”. 

Here is the abstract:

Long-running horror series are reputed to yield diminishing returns (both in terms of profit and quality). At first glance, the A Nightmare on Elm Street series appears to fit that established pattern. For instance, lead antagonist Freddy supposedly ‘deteriorates’ from sinister, backlit child molester to comic-book ‘Las Vegas lounge’ stand-up act by the end of the 1980s (Schoell and Spencer 1992, 116). However, interviews from the period indicate that comedy was a central component from the outset of the series; it is not, as has been often suggested, that the series’ horror was diluted by the introduction of humour in later sequels. Such misremembrances are entrenched by the writers’, directors’ and actors’ retrospective reflections on Elm Street, which colour how the series is understood more broadly. 

This chapter will focus on one of the most common misremembrances embedded into Elm Street’s lore; that the series began with hard rules about the relationship between dream and reality, which became looser (to the point of incoherence) as the series progressed. As close textual analysis and examination of archival interviews will demonstrate, the series’ “rules” were never as clearly established as creator Wes Craven intended. Moreover, rather than complaining that the continuing story did not hold together—indeed, Craven dismissed parts 2-6 of the series on these grounds—I argue that the series ought to be taken on its own terms. The individual films may vary in aesthetic and quality for various industrial reasons, but they are nevertheless chapters in a continuing narrative, and ought to be understood as such. Given that the diegesis is based on shared experiences—secrets held by Springwood’s parents, nightmares and abilities shared by the teens—it is reductive to understand the Elm Street films as anything other than an imbricated whole. As such, this chapter will demonstrate that the series’ narrative is best understood as a recurring nightmare. Its logic is dreamlike, being constituted by events, characters and motifs that are echoed across the series. Thus, this chapter contends that to dismiss the Elm Street sequels as a product of diminishing returns is to overlook the series’ narrative richness. More broadly, this chapter makes a case for understanding sequels as valuable parts of a whole, rather than dismissing them as inferior copies of the original. 


If you would like to read it, it is available here

The collection is available here. It features many excellent chapters on horror, including one by my colleague Kate Egan. Northumbria Uni's horror research is being represented in back-to-back chapters in this collection!




Wednesday, 25 August 2021

New Publication: Evil Seeds - The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children

The collection Evil Seeds - The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children (edited by Vanessa Morgan) is out now

https://www.amazon.com/Evil-Seeds-Ultimate-Villainous-Children/dp/B09CRM3KKN

I contributed sections on Plac Zabaw/Playground (2016) and Ils/Them (2006)... 


...although I wrote them before becoming a father (not as a reaction to my daughter's arrival) 😂




Slasher Studies Conference Keynote and Roundtable

I recently had the pleasure of delivering a Keynote talk about my current book project - The Metamodern Slasher Film - at the Slasher Studies Summer Camp conference (on Friday the 13th August, no less!)

Here is a recording of the keynote:


I also participated in a roundtable discussion about Slasher Studies alongside Wickham Clayton, Joan Hawkins and Murray Leeder. Here is a link to that discussion:

My thanks to the organisers - Wickham Clayton and Daniel Sheppard  - for inviting me to contribute to this event

Thursday, 10 June 2021

The Metamodern Slasher Film [video]


My talk on the Metamodern Slasher for Kurja Polt Festival is now live:
The paper is based on my forthcoming book about the Metamodern Slasher film

The virtual other talks are available here: 
Dr Shellie Mcmurdo and Dr Laura Mee - "Ghosts in the (VCR) Machine: Video, the Horror Genre, and Dead Media"

Dr Alexia Kannas - "The Dead Can Dance: Cinematic Ghosts of Post-Punk Melbourne"

The final paper will be available tomorrow:
Dr Johnny Walker - "Activist Horror Film: The Genre as Tool for Change"

Monday, 17 May 2021

Keynote Talk: The Metamodern Slasher


On Friday 13th august, I'll be delivering a keynote talk (alongside Prof Vera Dika) at the Slasher Studies Summer Camp conference


Here is my abstract:

It is commonly proposed that since the mid-00s, the slasher has predominantly followed a trend for remaking and rebooting established properties. While there certainly have been many remakes of classic slasher properties, a significant body of original slasher films have also been made in the era. This talk will focus on one of the most distinctive trends in the subgenre since the mid-00s: the metamodern slasher film.

​A comparison with the Scream-era postmodern slasher will help to explain what distinguishes the metamodern slasher from its immediate predecessors. Postmodern slasher films tend to be cynical, flippant or even nihilistic in tone. Postmodern slasher films are usually ludic, goading viewers into guessing the killer’s identity but then wrongfooting the audience with restricted or unreliable epistemic access to the narrative events. These films also commonly suggest that subgenre conventions are immutable, and that originality is no longer possible.  
​The metamodern slasher is distinguished from the postmodern slasher in several ways. First, the metamodern sensibility is characterised by its sincere tone. Second, although these films are playful, they react against the postmodern slasher’s duplicity. Instead of foregrounding epistemic restrictions, the value of individual characters’ idiosyncratic, subjective experiences is emphasised. Third, the metamodern slasher is characterised by a desire to innovate within the subgenre, underpinned by the assumption that originality is still possible. This talk will draw on a variety of contemporary examples to demonstrate how the metamodern slasher film operates, and why it constitutes a significant development within the subgenre.