Post-Horror: Art, Genre, and Cultural Elevation (Edinburgh University Press, 2021)
Hardback edition: February 2021
Paperback edition: February 2022
Horror’s longstanding reputation as a popular but culturally denigrated genre has been challenged by a new wave of films mixing arthouse minimalism with established genre conventions. Variously dubbed "elevated horror" and "post-horror," films such as The Babadook, It Follows, The Witch, It Comes at Night, Get Out, The Invitation, Hereditary, Midsommar, A Ghost Story, and mother! represent an emerging nexus of taste, politics, and style that has often earned outsized acclaim from critics and populist rejection by wider audiences. Post-Horror is the first full-length study of one of the most important and divisive movements in twenty-first-century horror cinema.
Case studies include:
It Comes at Night
I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House
A Dark Song
A Ghost Story
Hagazussa: A Heathen's Curse
Under the Skin
1. Apprehension Engines: Defining a New Wave of Art-Horror Cinema
2. "Slow," "Smart," "Indie," "Prestige," "Elevated": Discursive Struggle for Cultural Distinction
3. Grief, Mourning, and the Horrors of Familial Inheritance
4. Horror by Gaslight: Epistemic Violence and Ambivalent Belonging
5. Beautiful, Horrible Desolation: Landscape in Post-Horror Cinema
6. Queer Ethics and the Urban Ruin-Porn Landscape: The Horrors of Monogamy in It Follows
7. Existential Dread and the Trouble with Transcendence
"The horror film is often read as a low-budget and disreputable genre that is disparaged by critics and loved by only a small core of committed fans. However, there has always been a high end to horror, a high end that is made up of both art films and prestigious productions from the major studios. In this book, then, Church offers a crucial contribution to an understanding of this trend through his analysis of recent developments in its history. Grounded in an analysis of the reception contexts within which these films are produced, mediated and consumed, this book is a must for those interested in contemporary film culture in general and the horror film in particular."
--Mark Jancovich, University of East Anglia
"With this book, David Church confirms his status as one of the most interesting contemporary scholars working on horror and on taste politics. Church expands the notion of art-horror and shows the links between contemporary post-horror and 1940s woman's films, melodrama, science fiction and European art cinema, with great chapters devoted to the post-horror connection between family, intimate relationships, and epistemic violence. Meticulously researched and theorized, this is a book that, like the films it analyzes, rewards multiple readings. A thumping good read."
--Joan C. Hawkins, Indiana University