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Old Trauma and New Horror? The Contemporary Resonance of the Jonestown Massacre as Reimagined in The Sacrament . / McMurdo, Shellie.

2018. Paper presented at Fear 2000: Horror Media Now.

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@conference{143576e378f141c29d5150a682e0a773,
title = "Old Trauma and New Horror? The Contemporary Resonance of the Jonestown Massacre as Reimagined in The Sacrament ",
abstract = "Multiple innovative voices have emerged from the horror genre in the last decade, one of these being Ti West, whose career began to gain traction in 2009 with the release of House of the Devil; a satanic panic narrative with 80s horror aesthetics. The focus of this paper, West{\textquoteright}s The Sacrament, is also imbued with horror nostalgia. Although in this case, not through the use of 16mm film or a retro title font, but through its grim reimagining of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, which, with 914 dead, stood as the largest loss of American life in a single event until 9/11.By using one of the most horrific cultural touchstones of the 1970s, a decade also well-known for its horror genre output, this paper will explore how The Sacrament works as a re-imagining of an event that took place 40 years ago, while simultaneously engaging with multiple contemporary anxieties. The film, released in 2012, resonates with prescient themes such as media mistrust and fake news, as well as the fear of religious extremism that has permeated American culture since 2001. This paper will also demonstrate how The Sacrament provides a space to address the trauma of Jonestown, an event that has only been memorialised publicly in the last few years.This paper will explore West{\textquoteright}s decision to make The Sacrament as a faux-documentary, with the characters bearing witness to a massacre in the name of immersionist journalism. This choice not only positions the film as a visual interpretation of the controversial audio “death tape” reclaimed from the site of Jonestown, giving rise to the possible accusation of exploitative filmmaking, but also gives the narrative resonance in a contemporary culture fixated on recording both mundane and spectacular events alike.",
author = "Shellie McMurdo",
year = "2018",
language = "English",
note = "Fear 2000: Horror Media Now ; Conference date: 06-04-2018 Through 07-04-2018",

}

RIS

TY - CONF

T1 - Old Trauma and New Horror? The Contemporary Resonance of the Jonestown Massacre as Reimagined in The Sacrament

AU - McMurdo, Shellie

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - Multiple innovative voices have emerged from the horror genre in the last decade, one of these being Ti West, whose career began to gain traction in 2009 with the release of House of the Devil; a satanic panic narrative with 80s horror aesthetics. The focus of this paper, West’s The Sacrament, is also imbued with horror nostalgia. Although in this case, not through the use of 16mm film or a retro title font, but through its grim reimagining of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, which, with 914 dead, stood as the largest loss of American life in a single event until 9/11.By using one of the most horrific cultural touchstones of the 1970s, a decade also well-known for its horror genre output, this paper will explore how The Sacrament works as a re-imagining of an event that took place 40 years ago, while simultaneously engaging with multiple contemporary anxieties. The film, released in 2012, resonates with prescient themes such as media mistrust and fake news, as well as the fear of religious extremism that has permeated American culture since 2001. This paper will also demonstrate how The Sacrament provides a space to address the trauma of Jonestown, an event that has only been memorialised publicly in the last few years.This paper will explore West’s decision to make The Sacrament as a faux-documentary, with the characters bearing witness to a massacre in the name of immersionist journalism. This choice not only positions the film as a visual interpretation of the controversial audio “death tape” reclaimed from the site of Jonestown, giving rise to the possible accusation of exploitative filmmaking, but also gives the narrative resonance in a contemporary culture fixated on recording both mundane and spectacular events alike.

AB - Multiple innovative voices have emerged from the horror genre in the last decade, one of these being Ti West, whose career began to gain traction in 2009 with the release of House of the Devil; a satanic panic narrative with 80s horror aesthetics. The focus of this paper, West’s The Sacrament, is also imbued with horror nostalgia. Although in this case, not through the use of 16mm film or a retro title font, but through its grim reimagining of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, which, with 914 dead, stood as the largest loss of American life in a single event until 9/11.By using one of the most horrific cultural touchstones of the 1970s, a decade also well-known for its horror genre output, this paper will explore how The Sacrament works as a re-imagining of an event that took place 40 years ago, while simultaneously engaging with multiple contemporary anxieties. The film, released in 2012, resonates with prescient themes such as media mistrust and fake news, as well as the fear of religious extremism that has permeated American culture since 2001. This paper will also demonstrate how The Sacrament provides a space to address the trauma of Jonestown, an event that has only been memorialised publicly in the last few years.This paper will explore West’s decision to make The Sacrament as a faux-documentary, with the characters bearing witness to a massacre in the name of immersionist journalism. This choice not only positions the film as a visual interpretation of the controversial audio “death tape” reclaimed from the site of Jonestown, giving rise to the possible accusation of exploitative filmmaking, but also gives the narrative resonance in a contemporary culture fixated on recording both mundane and spectacular events alike.

M3 - Paper

T2 - Fear 2000: Horror Media Now

Y2 - 6 April 2018 through 7 April 2018

ER -