Authored by: Sue Short

The Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy-Tale Cultures

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138946156
eBook ISBN: 9781315670997
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter considers some key motifs that screen horror shares with fairy tales, focusing specifically on the complexities surrounding monstrosity. Diverse theories are referenced in the analysis of murderous parents and predatory strangers, questioning if all scary stories primarily intend to foster a sense of resilience and self-sufficiency (affirming that no one can be trusted) while also noting a contrasting intent to question exactly what makes a monster. Examples are drawn from diverse sources, including adult horror films such as The Blair Witch Project (1999) and children’s animated feature The Boxtrolls (2014), celebrated “Asian Extreme” titles such as Dumplings (2004) and A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), and cult TV series such as The Walking Dead (2010–), suggesting that horror—like its narrative precursors in fairy tale—functions to steel our nerves, accommodates us to the unknown and unnerving, and sometimes invites us to embrace the Other in order to inoculate against dread.

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