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9 - Folk Horror

from Part II - Genres

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2022

Stephen Shapiro
University of Warwick
Mark Storey
University of Warwick
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Although initially associated with English forms of horror and Gothic culture, as interest in folk horror has intensified over the past decade it has become apparent that the subgenre’s scope transcends national boundaries. It has also become obvious that there is a distinctive – and evolving – North American folk horror tradition. This chapter has three strands. The first establishes that the powerful North American suspicion of the community in the wilderness owes much to anxieties spawned during the English colonization of North America, as underlined by Robert Eggers’ 2015 film The Witch: A New-England Folk Tale. In the second section the author briefly surveys some of the most prominent post–World War II American folk horror texts. Finally, several recent folk horror texts are discussed in which the recent feminization of American folk horror is placed at the forefront, concluding with a discussion of Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019).

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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