Abstract

Chuck Palahniuk’s 2005 novel Haunted presents a group of wannabe writers confined for a retreat. The description of their interaction during confinement intertwines with the short stories they produce, and in both narrative levels, the writers invariably revisit memories of abuse, loss, social displacement and frustration. While confined, they spend part of their time inflicting pain and mutilation to themselves, aiming at the fabrication of new traumas, which they believe will increase the public’s interest in their works and lives. I analyse the representation and fabrication of trauma in Haunted through the manipulation of the body via bruising, (self-inflicted) mutilation, gender and age bending, cross-dressing and exacerbated sexualisation, among others. Jean Baudrillard’s concepts of simulation and hyperreality support the fabrication of trauma in the novel, whereas images of bodies changed by trauma are associated to the three phantasies that, according to Baudrillard, haunt the contemporary world: cancer, terrorism and transvestite.

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations

The end of the 1990s marks the consolidation of a subgenre within horror cinema known as found footage. Representatives range from cult predecessors Cannibal Holocaust and C’est arrivé près de chez vous, to blockbusters such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Some of the features in these movies include typical elements from the documentary format, such as the real-time unfolding of events, the filming character who works as a sort of first-person narrator, the ‘claims to truthfulness’ and the presence of evil deeds, characters and entities. More often than not, found footage movies document acts which are too violent, vicious, wicked or supernatural to be believed. Thus, this proposal seeks to analyse representations of evil in found footage movies over the past three decades, given that evil is a core element in the narrative dynamic in these movies. The analysis proposed here is based on a threefold theoretical structure: studies on documentary and false documentary; concepts pertaining to the society of spectacle and the convergence culture; finally, pertinent views on evil such as the ones found in Jean Baudrillard’s The Transparency of Evil and Terry Eagleton’s On Evil. The conclusion points out that evil is multifaceted in found footage movies, ranging from acts of vandalism, destruction of communities, murder of all kinds, to supernatural events involving zombies, aliens, witches, spirits and demons, among others. It also highlights the blur between reality and fiction inherent to the genre, fostered by movie makers and studios, as an important factor so as to bring evil closer to the audience and strengthen its effects.

In: This Thing of Darkness: Shedding Light on Evil

Contemporary audiences have been presented with several horror movies whose plots and marketing strategies capitalized on the subversion of factual discourse. Images of demonic possession, exorcisms, murder, supernatural entities in action, alien invasions and overall acts of violence, cruelty and evil are presented in ways that rely on the claims to truthfulness, one of the most important features of factual genres such as the documentary. This article deals with found footage films analysing how the textual design of these fictional horror movies relies on truth claims and documental structure, aiming at a potential increase in the confusion between reality and fiction. The analysis contemplates the movies Cannibal Holocaust (1980), The Blair Witch Project (1999) Paranormal Activity (2007), La Cueva (2014), Unfriended (2014) and The Gallows (2015), contending that the subversion of factual discourse identified in found footage is more effective when viewers look at the movie rather than through it. Phillip Cole’s four conceptions of secular evil illustrate how evil is a naturally fundamental component in the movies’ plots. In addition, found footage films are seen as a typical product of postmodern times, which, according to Jean Baudrillard, are characterized by the omnipresence of evil and the disappearance of the real. The theoretical support comes from theory pertaining to factual genres, as well as concepts related to image and communication in contemporary times, such as the disappearance of the real and the convergence culture.

In: Piercing the Shroud: Destabilizations of ‘Evil’
In: This Thing of Darkness: Shedding Light on Evil
This volume addresses trauma not only from a theoretical, descriptive and therapeutic perspective, but also through the survivor as narrator, meaning maker, and presenter. By conceptualising different outlooks on trauma, exploring transfigurations in writing and art, and engaging trauma through scriptotherapy, dharma art, autoethnography, photovoice and choreography, the interdisciplinary dialogue highlights the need for rethinking and re-examining trauma, as classical treatments geared towards healing do not recognise the potential for transfiguration inherent in the trauma itself. The investigation of the fissures, disruptions and shifts after punctual traumatic events or prolonged exposure to verbal and physical abuse, illness, war, captivity, incarceration, and chemical exposure, amongst others, leads to a new understanding of the transformed self and empowering post-traumatic developments.

Contributors are Peter Bray, Francesca Brencio, Mark Callaghan, M. Candace Christensen, Diedra L. Clay, Leanne Dodd, Marie France Forcier, Gen’ichiro Itakura, Jacqueline Linder, Elwin Susan John, Kori D. Novak, Cassie Pedersen, Danielle Schaub, Nicholas Quin Serenati, Aslı Tekinay, Tony M. Vinci and Claudio Zanini.
In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations
In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations
In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations