In the film, a young woman, while sorting her dead grandmother's affairs, stays in an eerie, southern mansion and soon discovers the matriarch may desire more than just her company.
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Inspired by the World Premiere and curious about its Southern Gothic origins, OWA Director of Marketing & Development Don Elfant, delves into the history of the genre:
A Tale About Southern Gothic
Oh, that Civil War, the gift that just keeps on giving. In light of today’s politics, many point out that the war never truly ended. Let’s not go there for now, although I will point out that I (embarrassingly) attended a high school in Houston in which the mascot was a Southern Rebel (American traitor) and its official flag was the Confederate Battle flag. Clearly, the war (of Northern Aggression, as many Southerners call it) was not over for everyone. Did I mention that nearly half of my class was African American? That’s some Southern Gothic shit right there. Or is it? What exactly is Southern Gothic, anyway?
The term "Southern Gothic" was originally used as pejorative and dismissive. Gothic fiction, which dates back to 1764 and Horace Walpole’s novel “The Castle of Otranto,” combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance. The genre took off in the 19th century, with the prose of Mary Shelley's “Frankenstein,” Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and in the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Byron. Another well-known novel in this genre, dating from the late Victorian era, is Bram Stoker's “Dracula.” The name Gothic refers to the (pseudo)-medieval buildings, emulating Gothic architecture, in which many of these stories take place.
There’s a world of gothic, however, that has little to do with vampires or mad scientists. Instead, it’s a world of dark family secrets, religious hysteria, and warped sexuality amid the sweltering heat of the Bible Belt. The Southern Gothic genre, which combines some Gothic sensibilities (such as the grotesque) with the setting and style of the Southern United States, include such greats as William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Truman Capote, Flannery O'Connor, Davis Grubb, and Harper Lee.
They stripped the genre of most of its supernatural trappings but retained its sense of the macabre and perverse to examine a postbellum south defined by poverty, confusion in the face of modernity, and the physical and social after-effects of slavery. The grandeur of the south was now in decay, and – in place of the lonely mansions, creepy woodlands and timid heroines of Victorian gothic – southern gothic gave us dilapidated plantations, overgrown Spanish moss and fading southern belles who’ve witnessed the Old World slip from their grasp.
Typical Trump voters.
Contemporary Southern Gothic tales, of course, include television and film. Some of the more notable examples include:
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)
BABY DOLL (1956)
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958)
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1961)
SOUTHERN COMFORT (1981)
AMERICAN GOTHIC (1995-1996)
MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL (1997)
WINTER’S BONE (2010)
TRUE DETECTIVE (2014)
HAP AND LEONARD (2016-2018)
In the great tradition of these iconic films and shows, comes THE PERFECT HOST: A SOUTHERN GOTHIC TALE (2018). Please join us for its World Premiere and a conversation with co-writer/director Derrick Sims (who is flying in all the way from New Zealand!) on Wednesday, August 22 at Flix Brewhouse.