Tor.com content by

JR. Forasteros

Horror’s Ongoing Reckoning: The Final Girl Seizes Control of Her Story

Who is the Final Girl? Why does she matter? And where does her story go after she survives the events that make her into the Final Girl? In other words, what happens after the Final Girl kills the slasher?

For a long time, the answer has been simple, and brutal: she’s either swiftly dispatched in the first of many sequels, or else she lives on to be tormented over and over. But recently, there’s been a change—a reversal of the formula, in which these characters are seen not as victims but as survivors with stories of their own. A new wave of slasher stories on the page and silver screen revisits these final girls—all grown up and bearing scars both mental and physical. The women we meet in these stories have seized control of the narrative from the slashers and, in doing so, they subvert the regressive politics of slasher narratives to insist that there is hope for life beyond the systems of control, abuse, and oppression that defined their pasts (but not their futures).

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Fear of Desire: Dracula, Purity Culture, and the Sins of the Church

I first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula when I was fourteen. I was shocked how Christian the book was (which should tell you something about how deeply I thought about books written by white Irish guys in the 19th century). I underlined, for instance, when Van Helsing insists, “Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him. He has allowed us to redeem one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to redeem more. Like them we shall travel toward sunrise; and like them, if we fall, we fall in good cause.”

I underlined this passage because I was a Southern Baptist youth group kid. A religious kid who loved horror, but a religious kid all the same. Even buying my mass-market paperback edition of Dracula felt transgressive. But here, near the end of the book, I was reading lines that would have sounded right coming from any minister or missionary’s mouth. I had known, of course, that the Church was the enemy of the vampire—holy water and crosses (and garlic because, uh, Rome is in Italy?) are potent weapons against this fanged menace. But Stoker’s enigmatic slayer was explicit. He was practically evangelistic in his fervor.

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