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Guilt Trips: Evil Children in Horror Films
This project is the first to investigate the representation of children as ‘evil’ in post-1950s Hollywood and international horror films. The links between children/childhood and ‘evil’ that the project explores have been roundly condemned in sociological works on the role of children in the family and society, legal works on the rights of children, and philosophical works on the nature of evil. One of the main questions will thus be why films so often show something that societal and philosophical consensus has categorically rejected. The key contribution of this research will be a new genre theory that defines horror films not, as per current scholarly consensus, as vehicles of fear, but as instigators of guilt. The project will further show how films achieve this on narrative, thematic, aesthetic and technical levels, and explore some of the broader cultural and societal implications of this new theory. Methodologically, the project will advance a new way of reading seemingly extra-narrative aspects (e.g., camera angles, sequels, funding structures in the film industry) as part of the films’ ‘internal’ narrative. In connection with her work for this project, Professor Kord was interviewed for a feature-length documentary entitled "Why Horror?". Directed by Nicolas Kleiman and Rob Lindsay, the film aired on 31 October 2014 and also featured interviews with George Romero, Eli Roth, John Carpenter and Hideo Nakata. At its first showing at a film festival in Mexico on October 4, 2014, the film netted its first award.
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