Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

John Warrick

Advisor Department



The horror movie genre has a history of developing stories that use both empathy and fear to reflect upon timeless cultural concerns. Guillermo del Toro’s works, The Devil’s Backbone, The Orphanage, and Mama, are contemporary examples of this formula at work. In this project, I intend to examine the sociality of these films according to the psychological theories of Freud’s “Uncanny” and Todorov’s “Fantastic.” Through these concepts, del Toro and his collaborators fashioned the issue of social isolation in a variety of ways to sculpt villains, victims, and families into entities that engender both our compassion and our disgust. By utilizing supernatural elements, they rivet the viewer’s attention onto issues that, though not supernatural themselves, are every bit as disturbing because they force us to reconsider the world within which we live.