Cheryl Mak Humanities and Social Science
Documenting Terror: DIY Aesthetics in Post-9/11 Horror Films
After the success of The Blair Witch Project (1999), the shaky camera disappeared from the horror genre. But on 9/11 Americans witnessed a new horror on their television screens from footage by professional news crews and amateur film recorders. Since then a recent trend of cheap, amateur filmmaking (DIY) aesthetics has resurfaced in mainstream horror films which unavoidably recall the events of 9/11. Simulating fact, these films act impregnable to interpretation, yet their intentionally degraded recordings suggest a disconnect between representation and material reality. To research this paradox, I will compare the stylistic and thematic uses of DIY aesthetics in Cloverfield (2008), Diary of the Dead (2007), and the Spanish film [Rec] (2007) within today’s paranoiac cultural fear of terrorism. In doing so I hope to contribute a filmic understanding of human identity and memory in a post-9/11 technocratic society.