The Gothic is a popular genre in literature which many have fallen in love with over the years. The embrace of Gothic Literature can be tagged as ironic, considering its goal to instill fear and mystification in the audience.
Gothic Literature has, however, evolved over the years since its inception. While we still have movies that are as Gothic as the early examples, we now have what we call Modern Gothic Literature which may be perceived differently by the audience.
Considering the popularity of the Gothic, you must have read or watched some examples of Modern Gothic Literature. We will be exploring the simple difference between Modern Gothic and Traditional Gothic. We will also be giving Modern Gothic Literature examples for you to check out.
Difference Between Modern Gothic and Traditional Gothic Literature
Gothic Literature has existed for several years and is still embraced by the world. The modern world has come to love Gothic fiction but is now retelling the Gothic with contemporary touches.
Traditional Gothic was based on the instillation of fear and so is Modern Gothic Literature. However, the differences between the two eras of Gothic Literature are clear.
- Ancient and Modern
- Gore and Fear
- Realism and Supernatural
Ancient and Modern
Traditional Gothic Literature embraced ancient society and ancient stories. One may wonder why most Gothic movies use Gothic architecture. We can assume that it’s because the two share a name; Gothic. However, ancient Gothic fiction featured Gothic Castles because they were set in either the Gothic era or the Victorian era; times in which Gothic Castles were popular.
In modern times, we still have movies that are set in the Gothic era and they use Gothic architecture. However, Modern Gothic Literature now use more modern settings. Modern Gothic books can be set in a familiar environment but with the necessary touches of dread.
Gore and Fear
Gothic Literature is known to be all about creating horror and both Traditional and Modern Gothic have respected this. However, the two seem to use different approaches. While Traditional Gothic focuses on the supernatural, using myths and controversial topics to create fear, Most modern Gothic use more of Gore.
Not all Modern Gothic books and movies use solely Gore but it is not a rare feature of Modern Gothic Literature.
Realism and Supernatural
Traditional Gothic Literature succeeded in using the supernatural to arouse fear in the audience. However, this technique has stopped being effective. In modern times, Gothic movies and books still use the supernatural but they are clearly less as horrific as realistic stories.
Asides from Gore, Modern Gothic Literature now uses realism to create fear in the audience. We all watch movies and read books, sometimes to learn, and sometimes to just enjoy a beautiful story. However, when the story is realistic, the reader feels like a part of the story and will feel closer to both the beautiful and the horrific happenings within.
10 Examples of Modern Gothic Literature (Books and Movies)
1. World War Z by Max Brooks (Gothic Book 2006)
World War Z by Max Brooks is an example of Modern Gothic Literature which uses a supposedly supernatural creature called Zombies to tell a horrific story in a realistic manner. It is written like a documentary where firsthand witnesses of a zombie war tell of their dreadful experiences.
In this story, Zombies are portrayed as victims of a new virus. Not only does the story use a modern setting but also uses a lot of realism. Especially in a world that has experienced pandemics like COVID-19 and Ebola Virus, the story from that novel may not be so far-fetched. The possibility of being close to that kind of mind-altering virus is terrifying. This book has a movie adaptation that tells the same story in a different manner.
2. Dead Silence (Gothic Movie 2007)
This is another very impressive Modern Gothic movie that uses the Traditional Gothic style but in a modern setting. In hopes of unraveling the mystery behind the death of his wife, Jamie Ashen travels back to his hometown where he learns of the legendary ventriloquist whose spirit is haunting his family.
We all know of ventriloquists and we believe they have some tricks for making dolls appear like they are talking. Mary Shaw, the ventriloquist and villain of the movie, may really have a supernatural mystery behind her dolls.
When Jamie returns to his hometown, Raven’s Fair, we are shown a building that appears similar to Gothic Architecture; another feature of Traditional Gothic. Finally, Dead Silence has an horrifying end where the villain achieves her aim while the hero, Jamie, has almost assumed victory.
3. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (Gothic Book 1975)
This tells a story of a writer named Ben Meats who returns to his isolated hometown where he spent four years of his childhood, only to find the Hamlet infested by bloodsucking creatures called Vampires.
According to Stephen King, the story was inspired the contemplation of how the legend of Dracula could fit into a modern setting. However, we can say there isn’t much of Dracula’s vibes in Salem’s Lot. While Count Dracula dominates as a protagonist and sole terror in his story (Dracula), Salem’s Lot uses a human hero who sets up a group to fight against the vampires who have taken over the village.
4. The Batman (Gothic Movie 2022)
While the Batman Movie may not be as frightening as one would expect of Gothic movies, it retains the expected suspense and gloom. Batman is a popular fictional character that fights crime and his story has nothing close to the idea of Gothic. However, this movie released in 2022 has an atmosphere similar to Gothic movies. It has no supernatural touch but it has many other characteristics of Modern Gothic.
Asides from being set in contemporary society, it has an atmosphere of secrecy and gloom. We also see an intelligent and relatable villain whose evil intentions are almost realized.
5. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (Gothic Book 2015)
This book may be more of a family drama than Horror but it contains elements of Modern Gothic Literature. This is the fourth Horror story by the American writer. It tells the story of a family that gets torn apart when a teenage girl is slowly and mysteriously afflicted with schizophrenia. The inability of the doctors to stop the deterioration makes everyone conclude that she’s possessed.
6. It (Gothic Movies 2017 & 2019)
The first movie tells the story of seven children who face their worst nightmares when they are preyed on by a cannibalistic shape-shifting clown called Pennywise. Pennywise is an otherworldly being that often takes the form of a dancing clown to hunt children. According to the story, this monster returns to the town every 27 years.
The sequel tells the story of the same children after 27 years. Pennywise returns, as usual, and the children go back to the town to take the monster down for good.
7. Underworld by Greg Cox (Gothic Book 2003)
This Gothic book tells the story of two mythical creatures; Vampires and Lycans. In this story, the two “races” have warred against each other for almost a millennium and the Vampires have dominated so far. The protagonist works as a trained killer for the vampire clan and strives to protect a mortal doctor when he’s hunted by the Lycans.
8. Friend Request (Gothic Movie 2016)
This is a beautiful horror movie that starts with the friendship between a popular student and an outcast. When an altercation, sparked by the friends of the former, leads to the videotaped suicide of the outcast, she returns to haunt the group.
While the outcast appears to be the villain, her character is well-written to be pitied. This may make you want to root for the villain.
The movie also has a very interesting end.
9. Pet Sematary by Stephen King (Gothic Book 1983)
Pet Sematary is a Modern Gothic novel which explores the themes of death, reincarnation, regrets, and love.
Louis Creed and his family move into a new town. He soon discovers an ancient cemetery in the woods behind their new home. When the family’s dog is killed by a car, He learns of the graveyard’s mysterious abilities to bring the dead back to life. However, the dog doesn’t return the same.
When greater tragedy strikes the family, how far will they go to get back their lost loved ones? Would the risk be worth it?
10. Zodiac (Gothic Movie 2007)
This 2007 movie uses one of the best weapons of modern Gothic; Realism. Instead of using the supernatural, which most people have concluded to be untrue, Modern Gothic can use what we all believe to be real and possible.
A professional cartoonist finds himself obsessing over the Zodiac killer, a true-life serial killer. With his intelligent thinking skills, he finds himself close to getting the real face behind that name.
It was scary enough to know he targeted couples. It was much scarier to know he communicated with the authorities with cryptic messages about the murders. It was even scarier to know he was never caught and his identity was never known. However, the scariest part of the movie is it wasn’t fiction and neither was it simply possible. It actually happened.
If you are a lover of Gothic fiction, you should check out the movies and books above. Modern Gothic is not very distant from what we recognize as Traditional Gothic. In both eras, we feel the true purpose of Gothic. However, it is not far-fetched to say Modern Gothic does it better.Share