Angel Wings, Chicken Wings, and the Boundaries of Horror: A Cognitive Analytical Reading of Ricky

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Abstract

This article proposes François Ozon’s Ricky (2009) as a case study for a cognitive-analytical discussion of film genre, with a focus on how horror cinema is received in France. By contrasting Ricky’s film text with its reception history, this discussion brings to light the potential consequences of being a genre film in a culture that resists the discourse of this genre. The argument is predicated on a definition of genre as categorisation according to the affect it elicits in the audience (after Torben Grodal’s work). While identifying characteristics that align the film with quality horror, this article also uncovers Ricky’s treatment of strong cultural taboos, such as cannibalism, alongside the enduring critical taboo of being a horror film, as opposed to a fantasy film, in the French context and within an auteur profile. As a tale about a winged baby, by representing vacillation between the symbolic (angel wings) and the libidinal (chicken wings) as they sprout from the titular character’s body, Ricky shows us a possibly borderline mother and family; but it also reveals an abject truth within cultural incoherencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-47
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in French Cinema
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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    Hartford, Jason

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