Derek Johnston
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The folk of folk horror
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Focusing on The Wicker Man, The Blood on Satan's Claw and Witchfinder General, this chapter explores the representation of ‘the folk’ and their community leaders in folk horror. The remote community is remote from centralised authority and power, and so the traditional beliefs and practices represented are not just survivals of the past but also challenges to centralised power. Whether these beliefs and practices are truly supernatural or not, these films present them as having power, power that in turn challenges the central belief system and structures of power of society. In other words, these films present the folk of the nation themselves as being powerful and possessed of secret knowledge, rather than the foreign aristocrats of the classical Gothic narrative. This in turn might suggest some of the particular relevance of the folk horror genre to our present, where notions of power, identity and responsibility have arisen in relation to Brexit, US elections, and populist movements across the world.

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Folk horror on film

Return of the British repressed


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