Twenty First Century Horror Films by Douglas Keesey

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horror filmsThere is no shortage of books that focus on horror films’ golden age of the 1970s and 1980s. Keesey brings us right up to the present with a look at horror films since 2000. Horror films reflect the social issues of the time, so it’s interesting to see this examined so currently.

The book covers over 100 films. For each entry, the author gives a synopsis and then explores the wider meanings represented with the film. The book is divided into three major sections.

Nightmares – This is a look at films that examine the more traditional horror staples, such as zombies, haunted houses, or dolls. Films in this area, for example under “Mother related horror,” include The Babadook and Inside.
Nations – This section is a global look at horror films and movements from a number of countries. I really enjoyed this section of the book since it covers titles that are sometimes overlooked. There were some obvious choices, including Wolf Creek for Australia and Dead Snow for Norway. However, the selections it highlighted from Iran, India, and Hungary are new to me so I’ll now seek them out.

Innovations – Here Keesey covers the new horror trends of the period from torture porn to self-aware slashers and found footage. This examines contemporary issues, such as the environment, home invasion, modern economics, and getting old.

This isn’t a “best of” book. The focus is on what each film says about our society and the times we live in. It also offers a look at the movements in horror over the last 17 years. It covers a lot of films with thought provoking insight from the author. With the limitations set by such a short time period, movies are discussed here that may not warrant inclusion when retrospective books are written about this era of horror films in the future. This book has interesting things to say and if you enjoy reading about horror films, you should like this.

8/10

Twenty First Century Horror Films Book Cover Blurb:

This lively and illuminating book explores over 100 contemporary horror films, providing insightful and provocative readings of what they mean while including numerous quotes from their creators. Some of these films, including The Babadook, The Green Inferno, It Follows, The Neon Demon, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and The Witch, are so recent that this will be one of the first times they are discussed in book form. The book is divided into three main sections: “nightmares,” “nations,” and “innovations.” “Nightmares” looks at new manifestations of traditional fears, including creepy dolls, haunted houses and demonic possession as well as vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies; and also considers more contemporary anxieties such as dread of home invasion and homophobia. “Nations” explores fright films from around the world, including Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Sweden as well as the UK and the U.S. “Innovations” focuses on the latest trends in terror from 3D to found-footage films, from Twilight teen romance to torture porn, and from body horror and eco-horror to techno-horror. Parodies, remakes and American adaptations of Asian horror are also discussed.