Elements of Horror as Tools to Mirror and Map

I’m glad we were given the chance to read a text on the critical theory surrounding the place of horror and literature in films; I’ve been trying to unravel the function of the horror that’s prevalent in Bell’s work. Like Jenn said, I think the most striking instance of horror we’ve encountered so far is the father’s swallowing of the fingerling; in line with Kawin’s argument, the instance of horror demands that we consider the inner turmoil of the narrator, as he grapples with his personal struggles surrounding the concepts of ownership and possession. As Kawin writes, “Good horror films try to be good hosts. They lead us through a structure that shows us something useful or something worth understanding” (247). However revolting it is, I think Bell is acting as a good host when he has his narrator swallow the stillborn son; we are forced to ask, “why?!” and to try to unravel it ourselves — which triggers discussion surrounding the father’s need to own, to physically possess and to control.

 

I’m interested in Kawin’s thoughts that come after, this, too, that horror films “often map out is the terrain of the unconscious, and in connection they often deal with fantasies of brutality, sexuality, victimization, repression, and so on” (247). Julianne, I think, brought up the idea that the woods as a setting in texts often symbolize a character’s subconscious self; I’m wondering how we can unpack the literal terrain and setting of In the Woods to better understand the terrain characterizing the minds of these characters. If the raging, rotting bear (a figure of horror, I’d say) is also a mother, does her rage and “terrible missing” help us to understand the mental anguish of the human mother figure? Does the character of the fingerling (also horrible, in his way) help to show us the negativity and the feelings of animosity that may mark the narrator’s mental self? 

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