This chapter explores violence outside the context of genre horror—which is largely accepted by the reading public and mostly upholds the status quo, the norm, and the law. When critics and theorists contextualize violent and horrific material, they tend to link it to alienation from our machinic world and to late capitalism and consumerism, or to uneasiness over gender-role changes. This chapter proposes an alternative perspective: the way these texts manipulate our relationship to the law obliges us to think about the nature of law and about which laws seem justified. To that end the chapter examines three possible effects of genre horror on the audience—terror, horror, and revulsion—through select fictional examples, then looks at the larger issue of how we are pushed beyond the law by these fictions and what that does for us as readers.
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