By Kirsten Moana Thompson
The facility and presence of dread in contemporary American cinema.
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Additional resources for Apocalyptic Dread: American Film at the Turn of the Millennium
Private eye Kersek, in Cape Fear (1991) = P KERSEK’S OMINOUS description of fear in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear (1991) invokes a dread rooted in the history of slavery, colonialism, and the faded Confederacy. Here fear is everywhere: in New Essex, the small town in the deep South where our narrative family, the Bowdens, live; in their lavish house with its elaborate facade and Spanish moss, reminiscent of the plantation houses of the antebellum South; and in the swamps and mists that surround the Cape Fear River, to which they ﬂee.
The effect of this emergence of repressed urges, desires, or secrets and its distinctive paradoxical combination of the familiar and the strange arouse dread or horror in the subject. Thus, both the uncanny and dread involve an uneasy oscillation between wanting to know and not knowing, wanting to see and yet not seeing. Whereas Kierkegaard considered that dread signals absolute freedom (and therefore cannot end), Freud was interested in how sin, guilt, or anxiety begins (in order that they may be cured).
Thus far we have discussed two key elements in Kierkegaardian dread: (1) the radical freedom of choosing or not choosing, and (2) the fear of the future. These elements are also operative in another theoretical paradigm of anxiety to whose connections with dread I will now turn. Dread’s Link with the Uncanny Anxiety is when, in this frame, something appears that was already there, much closer to the house, the heim: the host. —Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in The Modern Unhomely Freud understood the uncanny as “that which arouses dread and horror,” or “that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old 22 Apocalyptic Dread and long familiar” (340).
Apocalyptic Dread: American Film at the Turn of the Millennium by Kirsten Moana Thompson