The latest frontier of queer activism is queer horror.
Okay, bear with me. How is having gay people in horror movies revolutionary? After all, gay people have always been in horror movies, usually as the villain or as a joke – remember in American Psycho, when the psychopathic serial killer is so repulsed by a gay character that he can’t kill him?
But queer horror is different. It’s horror centering around queer people and their struggles, sometimes told metaphorically, sometimes told in a straight-forward way.
For example, Two Sentence Horror Stories combines the chilling technothriller vibe of Black Mirror with the everyday horrors faced by queer people, like homophobia. The result is a creeping horror show that feels gut-wrenchingly real even though it’s also supernatural.
Queer horror is taking to the big screen as well. Kristen Stewart, everyone’s favorite soulless android-turned-badass lesbian, is currently starring in Olivier Assayas’ edgy mystery-horror ghost story, Personal Shopper.
According to Fader, Stewart “plays a spiritually traumatized assistant with a thing for dressing up in her celebrity boss’ clothes.”
Her characters’ androgyny adds a certain queer gaze to the film; what’s life like for this gender-nonconforming character, and how does her sexuality and gender presentation affect the way that she perceives things like the random slasher scene that cuts through the center of the film?
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is more explicitly lesbian – a “wintry horror” starring Emma Roberts and Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper from Mad Men), and distributed by the same production house as Moonlight. After being possessed by the devil in a boiler room, Shipka stalks the other girls at her boarding school, consumed with lust and desire. (“You smell pretty,” she growls.)
Then there’s Raw, a French film about cannibalism and queer identities. On the surface, that sounds crazy. But, somehow, it works.
Queer horror is important because it illustrates just how violent and terrifying the world can be to a queer person on an everyday basis. Walking down the street, being ourselves, falling in love – we’re often killed for that. The world is horrifying. Finally, this genre lets us share our fears with the world.