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 Follows

  • The Witch

  • The Babadook

  • Get Out

  • Hereditary

  • Midsommar

  • Goodnight Mommy

  • It Comes at Night

  • The Invitation

  • I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House

  • mother!

  • A Dark Song

  • A Ghost Story

  • The Lighthouse

  • 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

Selected Bibliography


"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

© 2020 by David Church