Last election cycle there were a few articles noting a correlation between Republican presidencies and zombie films and Democratic presidencies and vampire films. They attribute this to the different cultural fears
When a Democrat is in the white house, the anxiety of the right side of the political spectrum serves up stories about monstrous immigrants who seduce innocent aristocrats into sexual explorations and spread dangerous ideas like viruses. Obama’s tenure has seen films from Daybreakers and Thirst in 2009 to A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night in 2014 and Bloodsucking Bastards in 2015.
When a Republican is in the White House, the anxieties of the political left inspires a wave of cinema about the dangers of herd mentality and mass consumerism, leading to slow shuffling hoards of monstrous citizens destroying the social structure of the world. During the Bush Administration we got a renewal of re-imagined zombies from 28 Days Later in 2002 to Dead Snow in 2009.
The metaphor shifts with the monster and it’s always fascinating to interpret art through the sense of the social atmosphere that surrounded it. Zombies and vampires wax and wane yet always stay on the edges of our cultural collective, no matter what the current politics. But we have had other monsters and horrors appear to terrify us in a timely way too.
The popularity of Slender Man is an interesting case, from its message board origins to related real-life crimes. It was the perfect monster for a generation raised during the economic crises of 2004 and 2008, people who feared corporate assimilation and a loss of identity and dreams. How natural to create a Reddit-fueled urban legend of a faceless man in a suit that eats children.
So with a Republican presidency on the horizon, what can we expect from horror and creature features? Zombies are currently still around but seem to be waning.
Lately there’s been a return of ghosts including a remake of Poltergeist in 2015 which can represent the past coming back to haunt us. Literally. We’ve also had a fair amount of possession and exorcism stories which often explore fears of external corruption. The newest generation of these might be representing anxieties about the creeping of technology into the bedrooms of the young.
There have been several recent inversions of the home invasion story, like Hush, Don’t Breathe, and even Elle (all in 2016). These movies explore new takes on allegories of either family violence or a violent stranger invasion, and the horror that happens behind closed doors.
So what will Trump’s presidency bring us? I believe we will see a return to reality television or/ game-show-like horror stories similar to Battle Royale (2000) and Circle (2015) and maybe some hypnotism and cults, like The Invitation, making a reappearance too.
I think we will also see body modification horror, especially with regard to gender and sexuality. This trend is already beginning with Evolution (2015) and (re)Assignment (2016).
But my number one prediction for Trump’s presidency is cannibalism. Perhaps even auto-cannibalism. Raw (2016) has already kicked off a fresh serving of human flesh in film and I think we will see more as we, as a country, sit with fears that we have turned our rampant consumerism inward with a self-destructive bent. Thus the zombie and the prey become one.