Cross-cultural standards of femininity in the post-modern horror film a case study of Carrie and Shutter

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: John P. McCombe


This thesis examines the ways the post-modern horror films, Carrie and Shutter, culturally construct ideal femininity. Cross-culturally, the female body has been associated with being inherently monstrous. In order to repress the monstrosity, females are expected to adhere to social standards of femininity; however, horror films, like Carrie and Shutter illuminate the struggle that many women feel to adhere to these standards. The monsters in Carrie and Shutter, Carrie White and Natre, have failed in their attempts to repress their monstrosity that stems directly from the sexual potency of the female body. Despite failing to fulfill cultural expectations, Carrie and Natre release their monstrosity. By accepting their inner monstrosity, Carrie and Natre show the failures of a social system that requires women to observe specific guidelines. In addition to showing the flaws social understandings of gender, Carrie and Natre use their monstrousness to empower themselves against those who have wronged them. While the elements of these films are supernatural, they also shed light on inherent fears about femininity and sexual taboos. The audiences are forced to come in close proximity to the female body and reconcile their bounded experiences of horror with their own cultural understandings.


King, Stephen, 1947- Film adaptations Criticism and interpretation, Carrie (Motion picture : 1976) Feminist criticism, Shutter (Motion picture : 2004) Feminist criticism, Horror films Feminist criticism, Feminist film criticism, Women in motion pictures, Violence in popular culture

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2011, author