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Dead PledgesDebt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture$
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Annie McClanahan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799058

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799058.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Houses of Horror

Houses of Horror

(p.143) 4 Houses of Horror
Dead Pledges

Annie McClanahan

Stanford University Press

Chapter 4 begins by noting that contemporary discourse on the economic crisis is profoundly shaped by the language of horror and fear. To understand why, this chapter turns to four post-crisis horror films that explicitly link fear, foreclosure, and financialized credit: Drag Me to Hell (dir. Sam Raimi), Dream Home (dir. Pang Ho-cheung), Mother’s Day (dir. Darren Lynn Bousman), and Crawlspace (dir. Josh Stolberg). All four films take up real estate lending, mortgage speculation, and foreclosure risk and locate horror in the “dead pledge” of the mortgage. Using horror and the home-invasion genre to explore the shifting understandings of ownership consequent to the housing crisis, these films frighteningly literalize the doctrine of caveat emptor. Exploring the relationship between “paying back” and “payback,” they suggest that introduction of speculative risk has shifted the social force of credit contracts from the promise of trust to the threat of revenge.

Keywords:   horror films, home-invasion films, speculative risk, securitization, fear, revenge, dispossession, liquidity, globalization, theory of property

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