City Lit at the BFI: screen horrors - screen monsters

Course Dates: 20/10/22 - 15/12/22
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
Location: BFI Southbank
From the ghostly apparitions of George Méliès’ Le Manoir du Diable (1896) to Ana Lily Amirpour’s skateboarding vampire in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) to Jordan Peele’s uncanny encounters in Us (2019), horror on screen has been home to ghosts, vampires, zombies, aliens, and other monsters, visualising our nightmares and repressed desires. This eight-week course will accompany a season of films at the BFI devoted to the genre and will examine horror’s visceral pleasures; its capacity to thrill, transgress, and provoke; and its ability to express fear, anxiety, identity, and rage. Drawing upon examples from global horror cinema, this course will explore why screen horror is the most disreputable and compelling of genres.
Please note this course will have a break week on Thursday 3 November due to the London Film festival.

Please note that some of the films studied on this course contain graphic imagery. While care will be taken in the presentation of sequences from these films and in the discussions around them, please be aware that some of the material will be unsettling.
Please note that this 8 week course will break for a week on Thursday 3rd November, but will resume the following week on Thursday 10th November. Your tutor will remind you of this at the beginning of the course.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £189.00 Senior fee £189.00 Concession £189.00

Course Code: HF336

Thu, eve, 20 Oct - 15 Dec '22

Duration: 8 sessions (over 9 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Lines open Monday-Friday 12:00-18:00

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This course will examine the allure and appeal of the horror genre, which has since its earliest days maintained its popularity with fans, despite an often-disreputable reputation. It will interrogate what scares us and why, while reflecting on what this tells us about ourselves. Dismissed by many as exploitation, the course will consider how the horror genre defies expectations, blurring lines between mainstream and art cinema, blockbuster and indie cinema, all while continuing to scare, thrill, or shock its audience. It will consider the role of the monster within the evolution of horror and how monsters have evolved and transformed through the language of cinema. It will interrogate how the horror genre and its pantheon of monsters operates as a transgressive expression of personal and societal nightmares, examining key moments within the cinematic genre to unpack how it functions as an expression of social, cultural, political change. It will reflect on the pleasures of horror and its place within contemporary cinema.

The course accompanies ‘In Dreams Are Monsters’, an extended season of global horror films at the BFI Southbank, which will focus on five key mythological figures within the genre: the witch, beast, ghost, zombie, and vampire.

What will we cover?

The course will look at the connections between horror cinema and its folkloric and literary antecedents, particularly in relation to the development of a pantheon of screen monsters. It will identify significant conventions and tropes of horror films, while also considering different global approaches to the genre. It will consider the role of cinema technology and special effects in the genre’s development, particularly in relation to body horror. It will examine the changing social, cultural, political, and industrial contexts that have affected the development of horror and its relationship to social and cultural change. It will look at a range of films, including Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, US, 1968), Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, Bel, 1971), Under the Shadow (Babak Anvari, Iran/UK, 2016), Atlantics (Mati Diop, Fr/Sen, 2019), His House (Remi Weekes, UK 2020), and Candyman (Nia DaCosta, US, 2021), to consider how horror is often a space used to challenge social inequalities and to undermine the status quo. The course will address how the genre’s exploration of the ‘other’ through its distinct relationship with monsters is often used to explore changing understanding of identity. The course will look at how the genre has developed through a growing body of work by women, ethnically diverse, and queer filmmakers. Reference will also be made to many of the films screened as part of the BFI’s ‘In Dreams Are Monsters’ season.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Understand how monsters have evolved from folklore and literature to screen media and their place within the evolution and development of the cinematic horror genre
• Situate developments of the horror genre within changing social, political, cultural, and industrial contexts.
• Be able to analyse how the genre often functions to explore and express changing conceptions and experiences of identity (such as race, gender, sexuality, national) and politics.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course does not presuppose any film knowledge and is open to anyone with an interest in Horror and genre cinema and film studies more generally.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be taught in the Studio at the BFI Southbank. It will involve an informal lecture using PowerPoint slides as well as the screening of clips from films studied on the course. There will be regular opportunities for class discussion. Work outside of the class is not required; however, you are encouraged to attend the screenings associated with the course as part of the BFI’s ‘In Dreams are Monsters' Horror film season, running throughout the duration of the course.

Please note that this 8 week course will break for a week on Thursday 3rd November, but will resume the following week on Thursday 10th November. Your tutor will remind you of this at the beginning of the course.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You should bring a device or a pen and paper to take notes, if you wish to. All clips from films shown during the class will be provided by the tutor.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other Film Studies courses under History Culture and Writing/Film Studies at

We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.