Author ORCID Identifier
Year of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Arts and Sciences
Dr. Dierdra Reber
My dissertation, Truth in Horror: Cinematic Representation of Social Violence in Spain, Latin American, and the Latinx United States, investigates the recent explosion of political horror films that straddle the past and present, reflecting both the current political moment and the polemic historical memories of state repression against racialized others and ideological dissidents. Chapter One, “Paranoid Horror and the Return of Franco,” studies four Spanish horror films, Tras el cristal (1986), Pa negre (2010), Mientras duermes (2011), and Musarañas (2014), all of which feature child protagonists that seek out truth about violent family secrets, but ultimately reject it as a means of self-preservation, thus offering a pessimistic outlook on the futurity of Spanish democracy that likewise remains haunted by the specter of dictatorship. Chapter Two, “Remembering, Representing, and Reacting to Latin American Horror,” compares and contrasts the Chilean film Trauma (2018), which relies on the conventions of the torture porn/splatter subgenre to educate about the violence endured during Pinochet’s reign, with the Guatemalan La Llorona (2019), which diverges from typical conventions to show how even supposedly apolitical or benign characters have upheld and benefitted from narratives that justify the use of state violence. Chapter Three, “Capitalist Latinx Horror,” analyzes how Sleep Dealer (2008), Culture Shock (2018), and Madres (2021) subvert the emblematic American myths regarding the United States as being a land of opportunity where dreams are made in a post-race society by showing how, in order to maximize profit, it must rely on the labor of unseen and underpaid undocumented workers as malleable and disposable entities. The recent surge of political horror films offers a warning about a return to authoritarian rule vis-à-vis the simultaneous rise of far-right political leaders while also providing an introspective experience for audience members in which we must come to terms with our own complicity in extractive and violent behaviors within the globalized neoliberal world order.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Ferguson, Kelly, "TRUTH IN HORROR: CINEMATIC REPRESENTATIONS OF SOCIAL VIOLENCE IN SPAIN, LATIN AMERICA, AND THE UNITED STATES" (2023). Theses and Dissertations--Hispanic Studies. 64.
Available for download on Monday, August 04, 2025