By Kirsten Moana Thompson
The facility and presence of dread in contemporary American cinema.
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Extra info for Apocalyptic Dread: American Film at the Turn of the Millennium
This difference complexiﬁes Max Cady’s character as both monster and victim in the remake. ” The dread that haunts the Bowdens is based on guilt, ambivalence, and conﬂict, and as such, is an internal form of shameful and disavowed knowledge, which leads us to Kierkegaard. Failing to acknowledge unconscious desires and past traumas produces a historical dread (the fear of the return of the repressed) that displaces existential dread (the fear of absolute freedom). The Bowden’s secrets and unconscious desires become displaced onto the object dread of horror’s compellingly fearful monster—as it rises from the swamps of the Cape Fear River in the form of Max Cady.
Cathy Caruth suggests that trauma is the expulsion from the psyche of the memory of 24 Apocalyptic Dread an overwhelming event, because it was an event unregistered at the time (it was “too soon”). Consequently, because of its horriﬁc experiential dimensions, trauma poses a conundrum as a historical event that registers symptomatically because the subject never fully incorporated it in a temporal sense (Caruth, “Unclaimed Experience” 3–7). Given this paradoxical atemporality, trauma does not engender mere repression or defense (as with hysterical or neurotic symptoms), but produces a temporal delay or ellipsis that enables the individual to survive.
The emotional intensity and sudden violence of Bowden’s reactions to his daughter’s illicit contact with Cady betrays his unconscious jealousy, as he grabs Danny roughly around the mouth with his hand and says, “Wipe that 40 Apocalyptic Dread smile off your face! ” The ﬁlm displaces his unconscious incestuous desires for his child by projecting them onto Max Cady as the external sadistic threat to his family. Danielle quickly becomes the target of Cady’s stalking, and, as Bowden is aware, is only one year younger than Cady’s ﬁrst rape victim.