Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on the sub-genre of “broadcast horror.”
What’s more terrifying, what you see or what you hear? What causes you to wince and instinctively cover your vital organs? Is it the bloody spectacle of splintering bones, popping eyes, and gaping maws? Or is their horrid audible representations? You can close your eyes, to be sure. But it is not so easy to escape sound.
Sound is a vital ingredient in selling the horror of horror films. It can make unbelievable (or hastily made) monsters feel that much more real and sell us on all manner of unthinkable, spine-tingling scenarios. It should come as no shock then, that there exists a sub-genre dedicated to mining the terrifying potential of audio.
In “broadcast horror,” the action is heard and described rather than seen, relayed to the protagonist, our surrogate ears, through radio waves, cell phone calls, and recorded transmissions. After readily coining and identifying the sub-genre, the video essay below unpacks three of its exemplary titles.:
Talk Radio, Oliver Stone’s 1988 thriller about a contemptuous shock jockey; Pontypool, an imaginative Canadian zombie film from 2008 that takes place entirely within a small-town radio station; and The Guilty, Gustav Möller’s 2018 film about a police officer assigned to oversee 911 dispatch, desperately attempting to remotely locate a kidnapped woman.
While few films have taken the premise of broadcast horror to its claustrophobic, logical extreme (Pontypool and The Guilty, excluded), as you acquaint yourself with the genre, you’ll no doubt connect the dots to movies with emphatic moments of broadcast horror. So, connect the dots, recall auditory nightmares from films past, and listen to this:
Watch “The Unique Thrills of Broadcast Horror”:
Who made this?
This video essay on the unique thrills of the broadcast horror sub-genre is by Dennis Gallagher. They’re a relatively new presence on the YouTube video essay scene. You can subscribe to Gallagher’s channel here.
More videos like this
- Want more video essay horror content? Say no more. Here’s a long-form deep dive from In Praise of Shadows on Frank Henenlotter‘s absolutely bananapants Basket Case trilogy.
- And here’s Accented Cinema‘s love letter to the sleazy b-movies of Hong Kong cinema.
- Another banger from Accented Cinema: a look at the weird and wonderful world of Thai horror.
- Here’s the academically-inclined Jordan Schonig on what the 2014 cyber horror Unfriended can teach us about the aesthetics of realism.
- Related: Here’s The Queue favorite Ryan Hollinger on how two different films, Pulse and FeardotCom, epitomize the early days of the internet horror sub-genre.
- Mamma Mia! Here’s a brief (and bloody) history of Italian horror from One Hundred Years of Cinema.