In 2013, the Walt Disney Company submitted an application to trademark “Día de los muertos” (Day of the Dead) as they prepared to launch a holiday themed movie. Almost immediately after this became public Disney faced such strong criticism and backlash they withdrew their petition. By October of 2017 Disney/Pixar released the animated film Coco. Audiences in Mexico and the U.S. praised it's accurate and authentic representation of the celebration of Day of the Dead. In this essay, I argue that despite its generic framing, Coco mobilizes many elements of horror in its account of Miguel's trespassing into the forbidden space of the dead and his transformation into a liminal figure, both dead and alive. Specifically, with its horror so deftly deployed through tropes and images of borders, whether between life and death or the United States and Mexico, Coco falls within a new genre, the border horror film.
Horror and Death: Rethinking Coco's Border Politics
Orquidea Morales is assistant professor of American Studies and Media & Communication Studies at the State University of New York, Old Westbury. Morales received her PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan and was the César Chávez Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College. She is currently working on her book manuscript entitled Border Horror: Death and Filmic Genres in South Texas and Northern Mexico.
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Orquidea Morales; Horror and Death: Rethinking Coco's Border Politics. Film Quarterly 1 June 2020; 73 (4): 41–49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2020.73.4.41
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