Horror Film

The Academy Awards ceremony is next Sunday, so this week’s review looks at the often overlooked horror genre, and why its mark on cinema is anything but insignificant

Horror film : a critical introduction

Leeder, Murray. Bloomsbury Academic, 2018
276p bibl index, 9781501314421 $100.00, 9781501314438 $29.95, 9781501314445

Leeder (Univ. of Calgary) has written a superb introductory text that explores the various scholarly approaches to horror cinema. He organizes the book into three parts. The first chronicles the history of the horror film; the second concerns theory, criticism, and audiences; the third investigates aesthetics, with special attention to sound and digital technology. Leeder’s expert handling of fear film history is admirable—brief but rarely reductive. The same can be said about his intelligent examination of various film theories and their application to horror cinema. Indeed, Leeder’s accessible—yet sophisticated—explanation of theories makes the book ideal for new scholars, in part because he explains the utility of theories as well as their limitations. The volume’s inclusion of surprising topics—e.g., discourse in fandom regarding what constitutes horror—adds further value. The bibliography is extensive and robust, including foundational texts of horror film studies and influential pieces from the past decade. Leeder covers expected films but also references more obscure (including recent) films. In sum, this well-written volume will serve well as a text for horror film courses and be valuable as a survey of the films, people, ideas, theories, and technologies that make horror cinema so captivating.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
Reviewer: S. B. Skelton, Kansas State University
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Film
Choice Issue: Sep 2018