Video from the Void: Video Spectatorship, Domestic Film Cultures, and Contemporary Horror Film

By Tryon, Chuck | Journal of Film and Video, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Video from the Void: Video Spectatorship, Domestic Film Cultures, and Contemporary Horror Film


Tryon, Chuck, Journal of Film and Video


IN I998, JUST A FEW MONTHS BEFOREthe release of The Blair Witch Project, the low- budget motion picture The Last Broadcast ap- peared on the festival circuit. Billed as the first "desktop feature film," The Last Broadcast was the first feature-length motion picture filmed, edited, and screened entirely using digital tech- nologies.1 Like The Blair Witch Project, The Last Broadcast is presented as a documentary fo- cusing on a group of enterprising documentary filmmakers who enterthe woods in orderto in- vestigate a legendary monster, never to return. The filmmakers, a group of publicity-hungry young men with a cable-access show called "Fact or Fiction," enter the woods in search of a local legend known as the Jersey Devil. However, unlike Blair Witch, Broadcast func- tions less as a horror film and operates more as a satire of documentary filmmaking, specifi- cally documentaries that focus on overturning court verdicts. In fact, several of the interviews are carefully juxtaposed with found footage in orderto discredit both the interviewees and the video images themselves. In this sense, The Last Broadcast exposes itself as a construc- tion, with the documentary filmmaker actively producing the meaning of the film. Thus, the film explicitly invokes fears of video and the Internet in its satire of documentary authenticity through the unverifiable horror film figure, the Jersey Devil. The Last Broadcasts satirical approach to reality television and investigative documentary offers a welcome challenge to other, more recent horror films that take as their subject the home spectator, the horror film fan who repeatedly watches his or her favorite horror films from the comforts of home. This article examines the ongoing attempts to negotiate the economic, social, and political changes represented by the domestic film audience through a series of media-sawy horror films that engage with the practices and habits associated with watching movies at home.

In this cycle of horror films, television, video, and the Internet appear as threats to the stability and safety of human subjects, challenging not only the status of cinema itself but also the stability of the nuclear family, specifically through the reconfiguration of the relationship between public and private space. These films seem to imply that electronic media will lead to fragmented social relationships because of their illusion of authenticity and their potential to further isolate people from a larger community. Moreover, the films seem to imply, because of their emphasis on perceived threats to documentary authenticity, that TV, video, and the Internet will undermine our grounds for interpretation and knowledge. My focus here is on the cycle of recent horror films that are concerned with TV, video, and the Internet, from the 1990s and early twenty-first century, including The Blair Witch Project (1999), Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000), The Ring (2002), FeardotCom (2002), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Ring 2 (2005), White Noise (2005), and Cloverpeld (2008). I concentrate on two films, The Blair Witch Project and The Ring, and how they navigate the tensions between film, TV, and video. For the most part, I have consciously decided to exclude horror film parodies, such as the Scream films, from this study because they focus less on the media delivery systems themselves and instead merely parody horror film genre conventions. The Scream trilogy relies heavily on horror film fans, mostly teenagers, who Immediately recognize the trilogy's allusions to past horror films, in part because of their familiarity with these films through repeat viewings on VHS or cable television; however, the media-sawy horror films after The Last Broadcast, even though many of them do bear intertextual relationships to past horror films, seem less invested in "hyperpostmodern" allusiveness and more focused on theorizing the practices of watching horror movies and the processes of media change associated with the introduction of new technologies such as the DVD. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Video from the Void: Video Spectatorship, Domestic Film Cultures, and Contemporary Horror Film
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.