As a genre that serves to unnerve its viewers, horror often operates outside of the formal codes and narrative tropes of mainstream cinema, making it conducive to portrayals that transcend societal constructs of race, class, and gender. While numerous scholars argue that horror films offer progressive depictions of masculinity and femininity, some accuse them of perpetuating a patriarchal form by disempowering, objectifying, and punishing female characters. This thesis employed textual analysis to scrutinize depictions of femininity and its association with supernatural victimization in The Exorcist and The Conjuring by examining representational choices in the context of the films cultural and historical moments and production conditions. Findings revealed that both films subvert the gender binary in their portrayals of professional, independent, and dominant women while simultaneously linking femininity to standards of submissiveness, domesticity, and vulnerability. In this way, possession films perpetuate binary norms that satisfy hegemonic understandings of femininity.
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