Art Film Or Prestige Horror? Essay

1458 Words Mar 4th, 2016 6 Pages
Onibaba: Art Film or Prestige Horror?
What is or is not horror is defined by the viewer, and with that perspective, it is within my role as the viewer to declare Onibaba, prestige art film, a horror film as well. In the Kawin reading, we are told that "bad horror" is a "spectacle", full of meaningless death and gore, with no investment required by the viewer, or greater message to provide (325). "Good horror" guides the viewer to psychological understanding of human nature and teaches us something worth knowing (Kawin 327). In this framework, the very qualities that may lead one to question Onibaba 's horror credentials- the heavy character work and quiet study of human nature- are what brings Onibaba to the ranks of high horror. Artistry doesn 't negate the fear nor does it negate the grotesque, it may simply elevate it to more intense levels. To determine that a film could not possibly be horror due to the beauty of direction or emphasis on humanity is to underestimate the capacity of horror to be an artistic creation and valuable cultural product. Taking this even further, I argue that Onibaba was, in fact, slasher horror before such a thing existed in Western film. The significant difference in prestige may disincline the viewer to relate Shindo’s Onibaba to trashy slasher fare, but based on narrative choices and character archetypes, I believe that Onibaba falls more in line with Western horror than may be initially accepted.
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