Friday, January 22, 2016

Irish Horror Renaissance?

In the latter half of the Victorian era, the authors who were at the forefront of the resurgence of Gothic literature tended to be written by the Anglo-Irish: Bram Stoker's Dracula is a key example, as are Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla and Uncle Silas. Indeed, the literary critic Terry Eagleton identifies this strain as the "Irish Gothic" and argues that such fictions were a way to grapple with the haunted history of the Protestant Ascendancy, Ireland's political colonization, and the horrors of the potato famine.

Based on The Canal (2014) and The Hallow (2015), I'm tempted to argue that we're in the midst of a similarly rich period in which Irish filmmakers reinvigorate the tired cliches of the horror film. Both films are good examples of the "Irish Gothic," as each addresses contemporary Irish fears in fictional form while breathing new life into the conventions that define the horror genre.

Ivan Kavanagh's The Canal deals with a heady cocktail of infidelity, work-stress, the difficulties of single parent homes, and the specter of domestic violence.

Corin Hardy's The Hallow, on the other hand, deals with fears about the Irish economy, issues of conservation, and the tension between the beliefs of the past and the shambles of modernity.

Both come highly recommended.