IndieWire has declared 2016 horror’s “best year in ages”, from 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Shallows, The Wailing, Don’t Breathe, The Invitation, Train to Busan, The Witch, and Green Room topping critics top ten lists and box office sales to boot. The silver screen hasn’t shied away from genre programming either, with anthology series American Horror Story continually revamping itself, AMC’s The Walking Dead and it’s spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, the sci-fi epic Black Mirror recently released a successful third season, among many other critical darlings.
It would be easy to notice this trend and claim we’re ushering a new age horror renaissance. It sure does seem like the long maligned genre is back to exploiting terror for mainstream audiences, but in the face of an ongoing trend circles the age-old question that plagues the mind of the contemporary critic. What is the responsibility of the critic? Especially in the digital era, where the cyber world is littered with millions of commentators and hundreds of publications producing quality criticism. How can one provide a unique alternative to the ever-expanding film criticism landscape?
During a 2012 panel titled, 'Film Criticism Today', Paul Brunick founding editor Alt Screen stated, “what criticism needs now is less film critics and more curators…I think the film critic of the future will be more like a DJ in a club. Sampling and mixing together reviews that people have written, viral videos, and frame-grabs.”
This being the first official issue of SVLLY(wood), a magazine geared toward curating a new kind of cinephilia, we introduce, The Feminine Mystique Redux: the editorial embodiment of Brunick’s hope. The one and only underground Halloween basement party of horror fueled psychoanalysis and visual craftsmanship.
The Feminine Mystique Redux takes its namesake from Betty Friedan’s 1963 trailblazing book The Feminine Mystique, which is credited for jumpstarting second wave feminism in the early 1960s. In the provocative (and highly exclusionary) novel, Friedan describes “the feminine mystique” as the philosophy behind baby boomer era housewives’ "sexual passivity, male domination and nurturing maternal love." In horror cinema, The Feminine Mystique Redux is less about passivity and more about a approaching a new paradigm on exploration and analysis that nurtures a visually violent genre to open up doors of new ways of thinking and viewing.
The Feminine Mystique Redux seeks to jumpstart a fourth wave feminist scholarship of horror film criticism. This issue is teeming with a 21st century understanding horror through a feminist lens, where the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality are employed to recognize a of theory and cinema.
The Feminine Mystique Redux also seeks to re-examine the centuries-old stigma of the neurotic woman; one that negates women’s autonomy whilst providing one of the most complex portraits of womanhood on screen.
The Feminine Mystique Redux is the collective effort of an international team of young artists who present their photography, criticism, poetry, and design in the effort to introduce a new archetype of understanding horror’s history, past, and future.
In trust and solidarity,
Francis Ford Coppola’s little fat girl in Ohio