Impossible Womanhood and Postfeminist Hegemony in Peirce’s Carrie and Bertino’s The Strangers
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This chapter showcases how contemporary horror movies, far from illustrating a clear feminist progression, instead at best suggest an uncomfortable tension within liberated femininity. To demonstrate this, I enact two critical moves. First, I compare Stephen King’s and Brian DePalma’s versions of Carrie, written/produced in the mid-1970s at the height of the women’s liberation movement, to Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 adaptation of the same tale to demonstrate that, despite Peirce’s attempts to humanize her characters, the 2013 version’s departures from DePalma’s film do not reflect the headway in women’s rights one might expect to see but rather the more regressive aspects critics associate with “postfeminism.” While DePalma’s Carrie is itself problematic, painting female sexuality as monstrous and the female body as abject, it is also revelatory, identifying the deep-seated issues that make feminine identity problematic in a patriarchal society. Peirce’s version downplays the monstrousness of the title character’s destructive power as well as her abject status, ultimately unlinking the former from the latter.
KeywordsFemale Body Symbolic Order Father Figure Twisted String Feminine Identity
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- 1.See Underwood and Miller’s Bare Bones: Conversations on Terror with Stephen King (McGraw-Hill, 1988).Google Scholar
- 2.These include Marcus Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003),Google Scholar
- Andrew Douglas’s The Amityville Horror (2005),Google Scholar
- Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes (2006),Google Scholar
- Dennis Iliadis’s The Last House on the Left (2009),Google Scholar
- and Samuel Bayer’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010).Google Scholar