The Forest is Not What it Seems: An Ecocritical Study of American Horror Films

dc.contributor.advisor Hollings, Marion D
dc.contributor.advisor White, Laura Whitaker, Brandyn 2020-11-16T20:02:20Z 2020-11-16T20:02:20Z 2020 2020-11-16T20:02:20Z
dc.description.abstract Wilderness horror and cabin horror films such as Antichrist, The Witch, The Evil Dead, and The Blair Witch Project utilize the strengths of their medium—a film’s narrative, dialogue, visuals, and sound design—to reignite seemingly archaic fears of the forest for modern audiences. Simon Estok has documented a subconscious fear of the environment, called ecophobia, that permeates and greatly affects societal practices directed at nature. Wilderness and cabin horror films, inspired by the longstanding American literary tradition of the malevolent dark wilderness, document how film techniques are uniquely able to expand upon and update the wilderness setting for horror as a genre. Films can draw upon their audiences’ ecophobia by utilizing visual, aural, narrative, and extratextual (as well as meta- and contextual) establishing techniques to connect the onscreen forest with that of the archaic and dangerous colonial wilderness. After analyzing how film conveys ecophobia in the first chapter, I use my second chapter to explore how wilderness horror films draw upon the forest’s consistent perception as a bewildering location that can be grouped into three general categories of disorientation: spatial, moral, and social. Each of these three forms of bewilderment likewise draws upon audience ecophobia, largely through depriving a film’s characters of their agency. Lastly, my thesis analyzes the dread caused by the cabin horror genre, where monstrous antagonists, whose ambiguity aligns them with the forest surrounding the cabin, create a scenario in which the cabin becomes representative of safety, order, and control against the chaotic and dangerous wilderness assaulting it. My thesis concludes with a framework for how the analysis presented throughout this study could be utilized for further ecoGothic analyses. M.A.
dc.language.rfc3066 en
dc.publisher Middle Tennessee State University
dc.subject Cabin Horror
dc.subject Ecocriticism
dc.subject EcoGothic
dc.subject Ecohorror
dc.subject Gothic Studies
dc.subject Horror Films
dc.subject American studies
dc.subject Film studies
dc.subject American literature
dc.thesis.degreelevel masters
dc.title The Forest is Not What it Seems: An Ecocritical Study of American Horror Films
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