Horror Cinema in the New Millennium (Part 1) (Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Francesco Pascuzzi (Rutgers University)

How has horror changed over the last 20 years? In a 2022 AnOtherMag article titled "Have Horror Films Become Too Smart for Their Own Good?" Alex Denney posited that, "[in addition to] displaying a range of arthouse tics – fastidious framing and art design; discordant, Penderecki-esque scores – elevated horrors are horror films that wear their subtexts on their sleeves," ultimately wondering, "[d]o you want your scares to double as a subtly shaded allegory on Trump-era isolationism?" Isn't horror, however, historically coded as an avenue to channel and reflect on personal and collective anxieties? If so, why would such pointed formal rigor be seen as a negative? Is "elevated horror" a myth? If not, what is it, and what engendered its rise?

This panel aims to explore the latest developments in horror film culture in the new millennium, ranging from emerging new themes to new auteurs to new modes of filmmaking and film production. In 2011, The Cabin in the Woods (Goddard) posited itself as a call to action to undo inveterate tropes that, over the decades, had fundamentally flattened the whole genre and undermined audience expectations and engagement by recycling stereotypical characters, trite settings, and unrealistic plot points - the final girl, the liminal location, illogical decision-making in service of the diegesis, to name a few - demanding instead that the genre altogether wipe the slate clean and elevate itself. Since then, a number of titles (Resolution, the rebooted Scream franchise, It Follows, Climax, among others) have adopted a more self-referential/aware approach to unmake those very tropes, retrain audiences, and altogether reimagine the very possibilities of the genre. This suggestive topic begs to be further investigated.

This panel aims to explore the latest developments in horror film and/or horror film culture in the new millennium, ranging from emerging new themes to new auteurs to new modes of filmmaking and film production. Comparative studies among American, European, and/or non-Western cinema are encouraged.