Thursday, 10 June 2021
Monday, 17 May 2021
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.
Thursday, 28 January 2021
I have a chapter in the edited collection New Blood: Critical Approaches to Contemporary Horror. My chapter is titled "Hardcore Horror: Challenging the Discourses of Extremity".
This chapter explores the relationship between ‘hardcore’ horror films, and the discursive context in which mainstream horror releases are being dubbed ‘extreme’. This chapter compares ‘mainstream’ and ‘hardcore’ horror with the aim of investigating what ‘extremity’ means. I will begin by outlining what ‘hardcore’ horror is, and how it differs from mainstream horror (both in terms of content and distribution). I will then dissect what ‘extremity’ means in this context, delineating problems with established critical discourses about ‘extreme’ horror. Print press reviewers focus on theatrically released horror films, ignoring microbudget direct-to-video horror. As such, their adjudications about ‘extremity’ in horror begin from a limited base that misrepresents the genre. Moreover, ‘extremity’ is not a universally shared value, yet it is predominantly presented as if referring to an objective, universally agreed-upon standard. Such judgements change over time. Moreover, in contrast to marketers’ uses of ‘extreme’, press critics predominantly use the term as a pejorative. Although academics have sought to defend and contextualise particular maligned films and directors, scholars have focused on a handful of infamous examples. As I will explain, academic publishers implicitly support that narrow focus. As such, the cumulative body of scholarly work on ‘extreme’ horror inadvertently replicates print press critics’ mischaracterisation of the genre. These discursive factors limit our collective understandings of ‘horror’, its ostensible ‘extremity’. and of ‘extremity’ qua concept. Given that the discourse of ‘extremity’ is so commonly employed when censuring representations that challenge established genre conventions, it is imperative that horror studies academics attend to peripheral hardcore horror texts, and seek to develop more robust conceptual understandings of extremity.
The editors - Eddie Falvey, Joe Hickinbottom and Jon Wroot - hosted a book launch event featuring some of the contributors (including me). The video of that event is available here: https://youtu.be/8HACL-xhdTM