These are some of the hyperbolic terms used to describe ‘the 21st century’s vilest new genre: torture porn’ (N.a. 2007a). It is hard to imagine that fictional films could warrant the loathing instilled in these adjectives, and resultantly in the term ‘torture porn’ itself. Following David Edelstein’s 2006 New York article ‘Now Playing at Your Local Multiplex: Torture Porn’,2 the label has been applied (often retroactively) to more than forty horror films made since 2003. Based on critical responses, one might mistakenly believe that torture porn is wholly irredeemable rather than being ‘one of the major cultural cornerstones of the decade’, as Tara Brady (2010a) has it. How torture porn came to be characterised as unacceptable and whether the subgenre deserves the remonstration it has received are key questions that this book will address. Taking stock of what ‘torture porn’ signifies is crucial, since the trend and the term continue to impact on how contemporary horror-fiction is understood more broadly.
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- Introduction: ‘Welcome to Your Worst Nightmare’
- Palgrave Macmillan UK