"They're not going to let us out of here alive": Surveillance, Contagion and Truth in Found Footage Horror

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Informed by a culturally prevalent nihilism in the wake of September 11th 2001 and the subsequent War on Terror, Diary of the Dead (Dir. George A. Romero, 2007) provides a filmic space for examining issues of trust in government and news agencies, and the search for truth in an increasingly mediated world. With supporting evidence presented from two further case studies of The Bay (Dir. Barry Levinson, 2012) and Quarantine (Dir. John Erick Dowdle, 2008), this paper will respond to a significant gap in scholarship linking found footage horror to national trauma.
Surveillance paranoia is a central element in these narratives, with the characters bearing inadvertent witness to a contagion based horror and subsequently attempting to relay the truth to the general public, while government agencies obstruct them and news agencies misreport the situation. Found footage horror is often posited as symbolic of the decline of the horror genre and as a result is often neglected academically, this paper will illustrate through a post cinematic perspective that the subgenre is offering new thematic and aesthetic ways of addressing contemporary cultural anxieties.

Using an approach influenced by trauma studies, this paper will contribute to debates surrounding the connection between national trauma and a nation’s cinema, as this paper demonstrates that by utilising markers of authenticity and aesthetics associated with the ‘spectacle of the real’, these films skilfully raise questions of authorial control and the reliability of editors, particularly those in a gatekeeper role in news agencies. I will draw comparisons between these films and coverage of real life events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina to give a markedly different reading of these often maligned films.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015
EventCine-Excess IX: Historical Trauma, Hysterical Texts: Cult Film in Times of Crisis - University of Brighton
Duration: 12 Nov 201514 Nov 2015


ConferenceCine-Excess IX


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