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The veneer of fear: understanding movie horror

The veneer of fear: understanding movie horror
The veneer of fear: understanding movie horror
Over the past half century, theorists have grappled with the issue that spectators engage with, and are emotionally affected by, fiction. In particular, film fiction has aroused interest because of the strength of emotional response. Traditional thinking about film accepted that illusion was a component of a spectator’s experience of film. However, contemporary theory has veered significantly from this and assumed that the spectator is always aware of the fictional nature of the content. In this thesis I argue that certain horror movies do, in fact, lead to an experience that is best characterized and understood in terms of illusion.

Analysing key theories that attempt to explain an audience’s emotional responses to fiction, I aim to demonstrate that popular non-illusionistic theories fail to acknowledge both sides of the filmatic relationship (the spectator and the film) and have mistakenly attempted to provide an explanation for all emotional responses across media. A more refined approach is needed, both to emotion and the medium through which it is evoked. Thus, I incorporate an empirical analytical method in my philosophical project, analysing a number of paradigm horror movies and drivers of film spectatorship, to demonstrate how conditions for illusion are present. I also place emphasis on the phenomenological account of the spectator.

My thesis offers an account of a type of horror movie experience that considers both the causal and conceptual issues of emotionally responding to film fiction. This explanation also offers a solution to the paradox of fiction but one that is not required to accord with those that attempt to explain other emotions evoked by works of art.
Hitchcock, Stuart John
347e6663-540c-4e75-8f16-0587c0d3e53d
Hitchcock, Stuart John
347e6663-540c-4e75-8f16-0587c0d3e53d
Neill, Alexander
356f9035-0820-4df8-838d-94b5bd219814

(2016) The veneer of fear: understanding movie horror. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 185pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Over the past half century, theorists have grappled with the issue that spectators engage with, and are emotionally affected by, fiction. In particular, film fiction has aroused interest because of the strength of emotional response. Traditional thinking about film accepted that illusion was a component of a spectator’s experience of film. However, contemporary theory has veered significantly from this and assumed that the spectator is always aware of the fictional nature of the content. In this thesis I argue that certain horror movies do, in fact, lead to an experience that is best characterized and understood in terms of illusion.

Analysing key theories that attempt to explain an audience’s emotional responses to fiction, I aim to demonstrate that popular non-illusionistic theories fail to acknowledge both sides of the filmatic relationship (the spectator and the film) and have mistakenly attempted to provide an explanation for all emotional responses across media. A more refined approach is needed, both to emotion and the medium through which it is evoked. Thus, I incorporate an empirical analytical method in my philosophical project, analysing a number of paradigm horror movies and drivers of film spectatorship, to demonstrate how conditions for illusion are present. I also place emphasis on the phenomenological account of the spectator.

My thesis offers an account of a type of horror movie experience that considers both the causal and conceptual issues of emotionally responding to film fiction. This explanation also offers a solution to the paradox of fiction but one that is not required to accord with those that attempt to explain other emotions evoked by works of art.

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Published date: August 2016
Organisations: University of Southampton, Philosophy

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 402369
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/402369
PURE UUID: 5b97e3a6-1b73-41cf-b1fd-9db81c447d85

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Date deposited: 10 Nov 2016 16:58
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 17:52

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