As a genre, horror stories are unique in their capacity to play on cultural anxiety to reveal what humans genuinely fear. Subseventy, the best horror stories utilize scary plots to probe cultural anxieties. Horror stories subvert established cultural conventions and rules to shock and fight audiences in exciting ways. By playing on these anxieties, works of horrors are an object of cultural anxiety that highlights the link between audiences, stories, and authors as monsters within the context of collective cultural norms. For this reason, adopting a meta horror-oriented approach is vital to demonstrating how horror stories are objects of anxiety. Accordingly, this provides several examples to prove its thesis.
Most horror stories reviewed in this analysis provide audiences with a glimpse into the pot that promotes cultural anxieties. Besides, the most successful horror stories uphold accepted beliefs about the genre by delivering unexpected truths of human societies. For example, Camp Ghoul Mountain Part VI is the titular book of the movie of the same title. It features a psychedelic slasher killer-fest. The narrative contains numerous references to the apocalypse, the supernatural, and conspiracy theories. By embellishing horror stories with these references, authors netive horror fans looking for a weirdly thrilling storyline (Martin, 2019). Consequently, fans who derive satisfaction from the narrative prove their obsession and preference for horror stories.
2016 horror movies provide convincing evidence of the link between horror stories and the cultural anxieties pervading American society. These movies unveiled white Americans’ fear of people of color and the corrupting influence of foreigners. Cultural anxieties expose the impact of fake news, misinformation, and nefarious conspiracy theories on the political climate in present-day America. For example, the movie Green Room, The Witch, and The Wailing addressed xenophobia and the anxiety of communicating across culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The in-depth analysis of these depicts the intersection of rampant nationalism, populism, and religion (Piatti-Farnell, 2017). Other movies demonstrating the capacity of horror stories as objects of cultural anxiety include The Purge: Election Year and 10 Cloverfield Lane. These horror narratives emphasize the scary nature of racist extremism, gun rights advocacy, religious bigotry, conspiracy-tinged survivalism, and xenophobic nationalism by preceding allegories and metaphors. These aspects indicate the shared impact of conflicting cultural attitudes and anxieties in the fabric of American social life.
In exploring cultural anxieties, the films Hush and Don’t Breathe use the metaphor of home invasion to dissect the fear of foreigners. Similarly, the Green Room uses a nightclub metaphor for a protected fortress to portray the upheaval that monsters produce on society. Interestingly, The Purge hints at the dystopia associated with the home invasion metaphor. These horror movies imply that the only way to remain safe is to respond proactively against cultural forces that shape collective cultural experiences. In this way, horror stories reveal what cultures, audiences, and authors fear. Almost all horror stories rely on the audience’s obsession with monsters to confront the fear of mortality (Martin, 2019). For example, the zombie trope captivates audiences with its premise of the undead, as the increasing appetite for blockbuster horror movies, short stories, novels, and TV series revolving around zombies and vampires portends. Subsequently, these horror stories feed the ina creasing fascination of authors, audiences, and readers with monsters. This fascination with monsters, for instance, begins at infancy and continues throughout an individual’s lifetime. However, the contemporary reincarnation of horror stories is anarchist and amoral (Piatti-Farnell, 2017). It subjects viewers to escalating and titillating feelings of powerlessness throughout narratives. Moreover, it disconnects viewers, readers, and authors from horror stories using manipulation to portray modern cultural anxieties. For example, horror narratives analyzed in this essay discuss societal upheaval, generational violence, and desensitization to violence to perpetuate popular tropes of the horror genre.
Most importantly, monsters in horror stories are of four categories. The first category refers to natural monsters. Examples of monsters in this category are the elusive Loch Ness, Sasquatch, and the Yeti monsters. At the same time, examples of menacing monsters include Godzilla and King Kong. In the second category, horror stories portray monsters associated with the fear of science. The most popular monster in this category is Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s creator desired to rival God’s creativity by giving life to an inanimate being. In the third category are doppelganger monsters such as Jekyll and Hyde. These monsters illustrate the Victorian conception of human psychology, referring to the repression of individuals’ inherent monstrosity. Jekyll and Hyde’s monsters coincide with Freudian theory psychology and the inner self. Finally, contemporary horror stories use a fourth type of monster to represent and effect revenge against the cult of progress, change, and improvement (Perrine, 2019). Dracula is an excellent example of this type of monster. He emerges from a distant pre-Christian past and reflects the tendency to avoid confronting imminent mortality.
Human preoccupation with monsters reveals various cultural anxieties pervading past and present human societies. It offers profound insights into the relationship between death and human experiences within the context of cultural interactions. Horror stories allow cultures to indulge their desires and fears without penalties which epsilon the pleasures audience, authors, and readers drive from these works. Subsequently, horror works in popular culture provide emotional compensation to individuals caused by medical science’s de-emotionalization and desensitization of death. Hence, it is vital to reflect and re-emphasize the role and centrality of horror stories in the collective human consciousness without deviating from the cultural anxieties characterizing these experiences.
Martin, G. N. (2019). (Why) do you like scary movies? A review of the empirical research on psychological responses to horror films. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02298
Perrine, T. A. (2019). Film and the nuclear age: Representing cultural anxiety. Routledge.
Piatti-Farnell, L. (2017). Gothic reflections: Mirrors, mysticism and cultural hauntings in contemporary horror films. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 6(2), 179-189. https://doi.org/10.1386/ajpc.6.2.179_1