Horror Film and Affect: Towards a Corporeal Model of Viewership, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Horror Film and Affect

Towards a Corporeal Model of Viewership, 1st Edition

By Xavier Aldana Reyes


206 pages | 20 B/W Illus.

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This book brings together various theoretical approaches to Horror that have received consistent academic attention since the 1990s – abjection, disgust, cognition, phenomenology, pain studies – to make a significant contribution to the study of fictional moving images of mutilation and the ways in which human bodies are affected by those on the screen on three levels: representationally, emotionally and somatically. Aldana Reyes reads Horror viewership as eminently carnal, and seeks to articulate the need for an alternative model that understands the experience of feeling under corporeal threat as the genre’s main descriptor. Using recent, post-millennial examples throughout, the book also offers case studies of key films such as Hostel, [REC], Martyrs or Ginger Snaps, and considers contemporary Horror strands such as found footage or 3D Horror.


Challenging theories of abjection, complicating cognitivism and recalibrating approaches to identification, this work brilliantly embodies the future of Horror Studies. Xavier Aldana Reyes slashes through received wisdoms: whether tackling New French Extremity, digital found footage, or the multiplex 3D movie, Horror Film and Affect is never less than razor sharp.

—Matt Hills, Professor of Film and TV Studies at Aberystwyth University and author of The Pleasures of Horror (2005)

Aldana Reyes presents a powerful, directly experiential approach to body horror which will have lasting impact on the field of horror film spectatorship. His innovative "affective-corporeal" somatic model considers how the affective encounter with abject images of torture, pain and dismemberment works not just to frighten and repel but to mobilise our emotional empathy.

—Anna Powell, Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University and author of Deleuze and Horror Film (2005)

Aldana Reyes’ book gathers insightful excursions into the twisted realm of affect and horror cinema, and finally manages to re-evaluate and fuse influential body theories in his courageous and very original genre criticism.

—Marcus Stiglegger, Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Siegen, Germany, and author of Terrorkino: Angst/Lust und Körperhorror (2010)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Affective-Corporeal Dimensions of Horror 1.Representation: Abjection, Disgust and the (Un)Gendered Body 2. Emotion: Cognition, Threat and Self-Reflection 3. Somatics: Startles, Somatic Empathy and Viewer Alignment Conclusion

About the Author

Xavier Aldana Reyes is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Film at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Film & Video
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies