Representing mass housing as the source of urban fear: cinematic spatial and social stereotypes

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The paper examines how media and cinematic text affect and are affected by an intertextual perception of the fearful city, by focusing on the role mass housing plays in the narrative and the cinematic structure of horror films. Cultural theorists have explored the parallels between place and culture, and horror films often go beyond scare tactics and record intentionally or unintentionally the lived experiences of the fearful city. This content analysis reveal mental codifications of the city and its various spaces and their evaluation based on the level of safety.
The paper aims to present the cultural codes that feed on but most importantly generate images of fearful notional places, based on two Anglophone horror films, which are directly linked to social mass housing projects. The paper (re)maps out Chicago's Near North and South London through Bernard Rose’s Candyman (1992) and Joe Cornish Attack the Block (2011). It focuses on the representation of distinctive social housing estates, and the way these places are presented as battlegrounds within western global cities and how this discourse leads to their perception as fearful voids in need of regeneration. The paper analysis the representation of the feeling of safety and fear and the way the films by condensing the urban context manage to provide a holistic picture that despite promoting stereotypes they manage to subvert them. In a constantly growing discourse over security and violence, the horror genre brings forward a key challenge in mass housing that links to the public, private and communal spaces and the opportunities for human interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020
EventAHRA International Conference 2020: Housing and the City - University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Nov 202021 Nov 2020


ConferenceAHRA International Conference 2020
Abbreviated titleAHRA2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • urban regeneration
  • Horror Films
  • Cinema
  • architecture
  • visual sociology


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