In my article, I examine a segment of the 2013 horror anthology, V/H/S/ 2. Entitled „Safe Haven” and directed by young directors Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans, this segment stands out for its religious and metaphysical subject matter. Examining broader media theory concerns relating to the „found-footage horror” subgenre, I consider how, during the course of „Safe Haven”, the screen as frame is gradually supplanted by the increasingly unreal events portrayed in the segment. I seek to simultaneously engage with the question of realism in found footage films, while also utilizing Evan Calder-Williams’ notion of „horrible form” to illuminate the various aesthetic features of Tjahjanto and Evans’ intensive work. In addition, I hope to shed new light on the found footage genre through utilizing some aspects of Aron Gurwitsch’s neglected work in field psychology. Borrowing Gurwitsch’s concept of „thematic field”, I show how the various themes represented in „Safe Haven” gradually modify the viewer experience, while also deforming the fields portrayed in the film. From a realistic, almost documentary film-style aesthetic, Tjahjanto and Evans transport us to a realm of transgressive religion. Beneath the form of religious piety, we uncover a transgressive spirituality, organized around what Friedrich Nietzsche characterizes in his Geneaology of Morals as the „will to nothingness.” Beneath representation, the demonic lies in wait, eager to transcend the human element. Degrading everything it infects, the will to nothingness is born, tearing apart corporeality and, indeed, the realism of found footage as orphaned media. Both frame and body alike are torn to shreds. The key imperative of found-footage horror is the following: only the footage may remain intact.
Keywords: demons, found footage, horror, nihilism, transgression
How to Cite:
Lovasz, A., (2018) “Thematic Fields, Transgressive Religion: Disembodiment and the Will to Nothingness in “Safe Haven””, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies 18(1), 35-54. doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/2168-569X.1490
Rights: Copyright © 2018 Adam Lovasz