Constructed Culture and Fear: Representations of Irish American Connection in the Horror Genre
University College Cork
(at time of presentation)
Loretta Goff is a PhD in Film and Screen Media candidate at University College Cork, where she also teaches at the undergraduate level. Her writing on film has featured in The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, Estudios Irlandeses, and Film Ireland, and she is a board member of Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. Her main research interests include the construction and performance of (hyphenated) identity in film and media, film as a cultural export, and contemporary representations of Irish-America.
Cultural Fear: Representations of Irish American Connection in the Horror Genre
For whether they are set in the pas t or in the future, on the mean streets of a contemporary New York or long ago in a galaxy far away, genre movies are always about the time and place in which they are made.—Barry Keith Grant
This paper examines the relationship of Ireland and America as seen through the lens of the horror genre, with particular reference to films from both sides of the Atlantic: Shrooms (2007) and Leprechaun (1993). Through their subversion of key Irish-American tropes and the romantic or tourist gaze these two films can be read as representative of contemporary fears relating to cultural commodification and colonisation, even while themselves participating in this commodification to a degree.
Recent years have seen a large number of horror or comedy/horror films produced in Ireland. The genre, which does not require large budget for productions, can easily be achieved in rural Irish settings. At the same time, the American audience easily identifies with these settings, familiar to them through the genre’s convention of isolation. The combination of low budgets, marketability, and increasing distribution options including Netflix and the internet can make these films appealing to produce. The root of the ‘fear’ produced in horror films, however, may have deeper implications, outside of the conventions of the genre, which both reflect and challenge societal ideologies. My reading of the aforementioned films will attempt to draw out these roots as key difficulties in the contemporary connections between Ireland and America.