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‘It’s So Easy to Create a Victim’: Subverting Gender Stereotypes in the New French Extremity

Gender and Contemporary Horror in Film

ISBN: 978-1-78769-898-7, eISBN: 978-1-78769-897-0

Publication date: 13 March 2019


The horror genre is and always has been populated by women, who can be seen to be at once both objectified and empowered. Building off the preexisting gender hierarchies and dynamics embedded in the history of horror cinema, this chapter looks at a number of New French Extremity films that assault audiences with unrelenting scenes of violence, torture and self-mutilation, which are performed almost exclusively upon or by women. Although the films of the New French Extremity have been dismissed as exploitative in their representations of wounded and suffering female bodies, their narratives also offer internal criticisms of the misogynistic portals of victimhood that are prevalent in the genre. Through a close analysis of the films Inside (Bustillo & Maury, 2007) (French title: À L’intérieur) and Martyrs (Laugier, 2008), this chapter will examine how both films deviate from the male monster/female victim dichotomy. Although the women of these films may start off vulnerable, they take charge of their situations, while also compacting the nature of feminine identity.



McGillvray, M. (2019), "‘It’s So Easy to Create a Victim’: Subverting Gender Stereotypes in the New French Extremity", Holland, S., Shail, R. and Gerrard, S. (Ed.) Gender and Contemporary Horror in Film (Emerald Studies in Popular Culture and Gender), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 7-22.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Maddi McGillvray