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‘Materialist horror’ and the portrayal of middle-class fear in recent Brazilian film drama: Adrift (2009) and Neighbouring Sounds (2012)

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The reference point of classic horror for today’s Latin American directors tends to be US horror of the post-war period, particularly the 1960s–1980s. Yet a clear trend among directors from the region is to reshape this rather fantastical generic influence into a tool to represent everyday class- race- and gender-based violence. Two films that stand out as examples of this trend are Adrift (Dhalia, 2009) and Neighbouring Sounds (Mendonça Filho, 2012). Mendonça’s film portrays a wide array of characters from different classes, races, generations and genders in Recife, while Dhalia’s film focuses on one family on vacation in the beach town of Búzios, but both frame their stories with a psychological-realist approach that I term ‘materialist horror’. This approach involves a framing of the genre within a dramatic narrative emphasizing not fantastical characters but the everyday, material reality of violence and unequal social relations deeply rooted in Latin American history. The films are also materialist in another sense. They materialize historical and affective processes in the quotidian bodily experiences, thoughts and dreams/nightmares of their middleand upper-class characters.
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Keywords: Brazil; cinema; class; gender; horror; race

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Missouri

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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