1. Film essay: How do horror
films mirror our society and
2. • How horror is presented in different countries?
• How the society in horror films differs between America and Britain?
• What is the other?
• How do the premises of horror films reflect the societal fears of the time?
• How has society and its fears changed over time?
• Racism and prejudice in horror?
• How horror films changed after the second world war?
• What makes these views of our society scary?
• Jordan Peele
• Gender in horror films
• How we connect to the themes of horror films?
• How can remakes of horror films change to adapt to our society.
• How horror films can have an impact on our society and inspire malicious acts or pranks through paranoia?
• How can horror have a personal and sociatal impact?
3. Kelly Mcneely. (2018). How cultural history and trauma shape our fears in films. Available:
our-fears-in-film. Last accessed 24th sep 2019.
• Horror folklore was originally designed to play into society as a way to frighten misbehaving children or to use superstition as a way to
scare the rich and powerful- horror films have adapted from this as a newer way to create a societal fear
• The common tropes such as house invasions may be a sign of a countries fear of immigrants/ foreigners which is common in horror and
this trope is often labeled as “the other”
• The horror of new French extremity comes from the aftermath of sudden violent attacks which reflect France's struggle with xenophobia
and a far right government which can be traced back to WW2
• Films such as Get Out, Green Room and Carrie can shake up the trope of “the other” by the main characters being “the other” and the
horror coming from the experiences they go through because they’re different.
• The concepts of metamorphism in horror shown in films such as The Fly, The Void and The Brood could be a fear of losing humanity or
losing culture as “the other” is introduced into a society. Such as the native Americans being incorporated into American/Canadian society
and ironically having them be stripped of their culture.
• America was a society built on violence displayed in the article above and this seeps into horror films through the trope of a
ghost/haunting being a vengeful spirit of “the other”.
• Slasher films came from the paranoia of real life serial killers that grew in America from the 1950’s onwards
4. • Rather than describing how horror reflects our own society the
article lists lots of films that have different takes on their
filmmakers issues with society
• Invasion Of The Body Snatchers uses the trope of an alien invasion
to mirror the communist paranoia in America and how this is
more apparent as the aliens take the form of normal people
• It Follows uses the idea of a sexually transmitted creature that
follows and kills you as a way to mirror the societal fear STI’s and
sexual trauma which shows that the extent of which horror can be
found in our society
• A Girl Walks Alone At Night shows the fear of being a woman in a
male dominated country where the main character is powerful is
spite of the fact she is a woman where she preys on the male
characters who are horrible people
Ben Allen. (2017). How horror has always been a grim
reflection of our taboos. Available:
of-our-taboos-get-out. Last accessed 24th sep 2019.
5. Anne Billson. (2008). Anne Billson on society and the horror film.
Available: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2008/oct/31/horror. Last
accessed 24th sep 2019.
By using implicit information in horror films the viewer
becomes more invested in the film.
Horror becomes more terrorfying when it reflects events
from reality or pokes at flaws in our society as the
veiwer will reflect on their own thoughts and opinions
about these issues.
Horror films originally presented the fear/threat of the
other as Vampires or Frankenstien’s monster however
as times have changed horror has too and the threats
have become more close to home with serial killers and
more abstract with the paranormal or the uccult.
The change in the genre happens when people become
desensitised to what they watch on the screen however
it can also happen when they become desensitised
through reality as there was a huge change in the
attitude of horror after the second world war
6. Aja Romano. (2016). Horror movies reflect cultural
fears in 2016 Americans feared invasion. Available:
6/horror-movies-2016-invasion. Last accessed 24th
The author writes that horror films such as
Don’t Breathe and other reccent home
invasion movies are actually fueled by the
social anxiety of other cultures invading
The author also explores the thought that
films such as The Purge and 10 Cloverfield
Lane were based on fear of the government
and the actions of those who are in charge of
The home invasion trope is aimed at white
Americans as “the other” threatens their
7. The first horror film
George Melies created the first horror film in 1896. The film
was about a vampire that played tricks on the knights of the
castle. The film is only about 3 minuets long however it
makes great use of editing to create some cool effects
especially for a film made over 100 years ago. I wouldn’t say
the film is scary at all as the use of cutting for surprise is
used more for a comedic effect. The only part of the film
that fits the horror genre is the fact that it uses ghosts,
vampires and skeletons in its story but I think this shows
just how far the horror genre has come in all aspects to the
point where the creatures in George Melies film are no
longer considered scary and the threats in horror films have
evolved to fit the fears of different societies.
8. How horror movies changed over time
• In the video it gives a chronological order to
significant horror films that changed and
developed the genre although it mentions
how societal fears influenced the films it
didn’t go into much depth however it’s
useful as a reference for films that shaped
• after the second world war there was a
trend of werewolf movies. Adolf translated
into wolf which meant that the films
reflected the violence of the Nazis.
• In the 50’s there was fear of world ending
threats such as nuclear weapons, this was
reflected in films such as Them! And
Godzilla which showed giant creatures
threatening to destroy humanity.
9. Latinos and Horror Films
• For most weekend 22% of an audience are Latinos which is a fairly
large percentage however this can boost to 50% on the opening
weekends of horror films purely because of their love for horror.
• Some famous horror film directors are Latino which shows their
influence in the genre. These directors include Guillermo Del Toro,
George Romero and Robert Rodriguez.
• Hollywood still seems to have a diversity problem as Latino
characters are hardly ever presented as the main character and are
most of the time demoted to either a friend of the main character
(normally a white male/female) or a background extra.
• More Latino main characters should appear in horror films as they
have such a strong passion for horror however they may not get a
chance due to the society we live in.
• La Llorona is a Mexican folktale about the ghost of a woman who
drowned herself and her children who now wanders the streets of
Mexico kidnapping children to take the place of her own. The tale
was made into a horror film in 2019 called The Curse of La Llorona
which was a typical jump scare filled horror however it does
something irritating as instead of basing the film in Mexico it instead
is set in America, the film took advantage of Latino audiences by
making them think they were going to see a film that represented
their culture however this was instead just used as bait to get a large
amount of Latin audiences to watch the film.
10. Horror Noire
The black experience of horror
Robin R Means Coleman (2011). Horror Noire. New York: Routledge. 296.
• The book is from the perspective of a black
author and is authentic in it’s portrayal of
racism in horror films as rather than looking at
implicit information in films, the author
focuses on factual information about how
black people were treated, used and
represented in films.
• The book breaks down the racism and
treatment of black people in horror films from
before the 1930’s up until the early 2000’s. this
gives us an insight into how racism changed
over time with some decades having more
black representation than others such as the
Blaxploitation of the 70’s and new
representation in the 90s and early 2000’s.
11. Black horror films
Kemi Alemoru. (2018). A brief history of black horror films. Available: https://www.dazeddigital.com/film-
tv/article/42677/1/a-brief-history-of-black-horror-films. Last accessed 15th oct 2019.
• The first horror film to feature a black main
character was “Blacula” 1972 where racism and
slavery was a key theme in the film and this was
actually progressive as embracing this racialised
monster turned him into a character that
represented black pride. This caused many
Blaxploitation horror films to be created during the
• Black characters in horror films were/are often used
as background characters, friends of the protagonist
or spiritual characters all of the roles present these
characters as unimportant or as a racial stereotype.
These characters are most often one of the first to
die in the film.
12. The concept of love
Ruth Bienstock Anolik and Douglas L. Howard (2004). The Gothic Other: Racial and Social Constructions in the
Literary Imagination. .: Ruth Bienstock Anolik . 321.
• Mixed race couples- a societies underlying fear of
mix raced couples this was most evident in periods
where this was a big issue due to explicit racism
such in the 1930’s with King Kong being a prime
example of this. Films such as Candyman 1993 may
have been a more implicit or subliminal implication
• Killers/monsters are often presented as a twisted
love interest or sexually appealing villain which can
be seen in many vampire films however it can also
be seen in The Fly which uses a progression of body
horror to present the main character becoming the
13. Get Out
• In 2017 Jordan Peele released Get Out, a horror film that
shook up the horror genre because of it’s themes of
racism that were clearly targeted at the modern day
American society. The film boldly and truthfully told
audiences the racism is still alive. The film criticizes the
society it was created in by openly showing audiences
how racism has taken new forms and in a way this works
so well as it makes the audience more aware of these
situations in real life.
• Get Out represents the daily struggles of minorities, how
they can be stereotyped and discriminated against. This
can be seen in the clichés of the horror genre which are
used in the film such as a black character being the first
to die. The ending of the film uses real life social issues to
make the audience worry for the main character as the
police lights in the distance that would normally
represent safety in a white horror film now represent a
danger to the main character as he has managed to kill all
the members of the white family that tried to kill him and
now because of his race we know that the police will see
him as the aggressor instead of the victim. Luckily the
lights turn out to be the main characters friend however
the implication of danger from the people that are meant
to protect people was still intended.
Vi Nguyen. (2017). ‘Get Out’ + The Evolution of Race in
Western Horror Films. Available:
race-in-western-horror-films/. Last accessed 22nd oct
Jordan Peele - the horror of American society
• Something that became apparent to me as I was watching US was the
films title perfectly reflected the themes of the film as it refers to the
antagonists of the film being doubles of the main characters while also
referencing that the film is focused of the society of the United States.
This is made obvious when the main character asks the doppelgängers
who they are and her copy answers “we are Americans”. The film can be
seen a reflection of many issues however all these issues are
representations of American society.
• The film uses symbolism to represent how our society oppresses
minorities and how charitable causes such as “the hands across America”
can just be used to make middle class families seem like they care about
minorities when actually they aren’t doing much to help. “The tethered”
use this same concept of hands across America as an ironic statement to
say that they have been neglected and oppressed. Jordan Peele repeats
his use of imagery through out the film to show how “the tethered” are
minorities as they are often show as shadows of the characters to show
that they can’t be there own people until they get rid of they’re counter
parts as they were unwillingly controlled by the actions of Americans
above ground until they escaped onto the surface.
• The films climax shows why the tethered are so determined in their goals
and it becomes clear the antagonists of the film are both the tethered
and the American society who abandoned and oppressed them. That the
very American fear of outsiders and invaders may be the true evil as it is
what causes the tethered to become oppressed and causes them to
become a threat where as if there were accepted and cared for then they
wouldn't need to be an uprising. The film is ultimately about the two
sides of America, those who live obliviously peaceful lives and those who
are forced to live with the consequences of the American society
• Us is packed full of social messages which I can unpack so I can definitely
talk about it in my essay.
Brian Gilbert. (7th Jun 2019). What Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ says
About Us as a Society, a Nation and as
as-individuals/. Last accessed 22nd Oct 2019.
15. Sexuality in the slasher genre• Women have been presented in many different ways in horror films however the topic
that has always occurred in horror films with women as leading roles is how their
sexuality dominates their character.
• The term “final girl” was coined by Carol J. Clover in her book “Men, Women and
• The role of the “final girl” is often found in slasher films as the female main character
in the film will outlive the cast of friends that surround her, this subverts the trope in
films that men are more likely to survive.
• Where men are often presented as the killers in slasher films, women are either
shown as intelligent surviving characters or they are sexualised/shown as defenseless
against the antagonist.
• The final girl role can be problematic if used wrong however in most horror films it’s a
representation of the character learning to stand up for themselves and surpass the
people around them.
• it’s likely that Black Christmas 1974 was the first slasher film to include a “Final Girl”
and was one of the first American slasher films however the trope was popularised by
Halloween in 1978 which influenced practically every slasher film that came after it.
Kalyn Corrigan. (2017). How Horror Movies Conjure Nightmares out of Human Sexuality. Available:
https://collider.com/sexuality-in-horror-movies/#final-girl. Last accessed 22nd Oct 2019.
Carol J. Clover (1992). Men, Women and Chainsaws. United
States: Princeton University Press. 276.
Personal Horror- Hereditary
Hereditary is not a horror film about society neither
does it have any implication of this however I do
belive that the film uses the characters social
interactions with each other to drive the plot and
After a catostrophic event that happens early in the
film the family becomes distant and their individual
issues consume their thoughts and they become
unable to speak to each other without argueing. The
film makes it clear that the dissconnect of the family
is the cuase of their demise.
The film is about grief and the destruction it can
cuase if those experiencing it aren’t willing to talk to
each other about the issues they face because of it
which is something that I think reflects on society as
a whole when we must face grief.
. (2018). Suspense in ‘Hereditary’ creates a new type of
horror film. Available:
film/. Last accessed 4th October 2019.
17. Personal Horror - The Shining
The Shining is a case of a film that has had a
cultural impact on our society as one of the
greatest horror films of all time however this has
cuased many conspiricies to be made about the
film to the point of obserdity.
From theories of Stanley Kubrick faking the moon
landing to theories of the film having subtext that
alludes to the holocuast, there are so many
theories that they were compiled into a
documentery called Room 237. The documentery
goes into a lot of detail about conspiracy theorists
and their various interepretations of the film. I
think that this shows how much the film has
seeped into our society as an icon of the horror
genre as well as something that can be viewed
from various perspectives.