Activist Horror Film: The Genre as Tool for Change

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It is increasingly common for scholars and journalists to make claims of horror cinema’s potential to engage with socio-political realities and, in so doing, identify grave social injustices. This article argues that, if one is to make a true assessment of the extent to which horror films might effect social change, one needs to look towards activist communities within which filmmakers are using the genre as part of a broader effort to do precisely that. In so doing, the article theorizes ‘Activist Horror Film’ in relation to a British short film, The Herd, a work cultivated as part of the vegan-feminist protest movement. The article begins by situating The Herd within the context of scholarship about socially charged horror films, before considering the film’s broader activist context and that of its production, the crowd-funding campaign that led to its completion, the film’s content, its presence at festivals and online and its afterlife within circles of vegan/animal welfare activism. This article contends that The Herd is easily distinguished from other socially aware horror films of the contemporary moment, for the activism of its makers is what drives it and is the context that birthed it and within which it continues to be shown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalNew Review of Film and Television Studies
Early online date15 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2022


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