This PhD in the arts focuses on fiction film, specifically the horror genre. Based on two realized horror short films (“Muil” and “Souvenir”) and two full-length film scenarios (“Matriarch” and “Pan”), the core of this research entails the contrast between intellect and affect in this genre. This intellect consists on the one hand of a conscious use of the genre with all its rules, viewers expectations and conventions, as well as a desire to consciously incorporate theoretical concepts into the film text and use it as inspiration: specifically the abject of Julia Kristeva, and the archaic-mother of Barbara Creed. The affect refers to the “horror” in horror: a sense of disquiet, of transgression, of shock. John Clute's term revel best summarizes this. Horror shows me an uncomfortable, disgusting, sad and angry "truth" that repulses and fascinates at the same time.
The core question of this research is as follows: how can I, as a filmmaker, make something that deeply disturbs people within a certain genre, starting from a very conscious use of that genre with its conventions, expectations, … and a personal love for theory?
This is explored by turning to the domain of screenwriting studies, and specifically to the work of Ian Macdonald and the concepts he developed: screen idea and the screen idea work group (SIWG).
This research argues for a broadening of these terms. By seeing the SIWG even more as a virtual space, abstract concepts - like the abject - can also become members. For example, the VAF – the Flemish film fund - was a “member” in the SIWG of SOUVENIR, and the abject as an active inspirator in the SIWGs of MUIL and MATRIARCH, and as an implicit presence in SOUVENIR. Viewing the SIWG in this way makes it even more the most important place of screen idea development: the struggle with processing feedback (given by a funding body or other external party), the struggle with the internal ideological contradictions (more genre or less?), …
The concept of the screen idea is also nuanced by this research: whereas with Macdonald this is purely project-based, this can also be seen as a collection of projects around the same motifs, themes, visual motifs, and genre. This also better approaches the reality of film production with the long time it takes to realize a project.
Finally, within the domain of artistic research, this research demands attention for regular fiction film. This research is deliberately not post-media or post-disciplinary, but opts fully for an existing discipline (fiction film) linked to the commercial and mainstream horror genre.