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Digital anxiety and the new verité horror and sf film


In verité horror and sf film, the camera exists within the diegesis, often with much of the story unfolding in real time, as if it were there recording actual events, as in the documentary tradition of cinema verité. This essay explores the history of this horror and sf subgenre and speculates on the reasons for the recent cycle of such films from around the world. In their shared stylistic approach, this cycle of genre movies depicts the monstrous in the mundane spaces we see every day in social networking, which also captures and disseminates globally daily atrocities beside which monster movies pale. The realist aesthetic of these films, in combination with their fantastic and frightening elements, reveals a postmodern anxiety about the indexical truthfulness of the image that has been exacerbated by the ubiquity of digital technology. Our collective unease about the truth status of visual documentation surfaces in these films, which betray the postmodern confusion between the real and the simulacrum.