Growing Up is Murder: An Analysis of Coming-of-Age Narratives in Horror Films




Shierry, Alyssa N.

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This interpretive thesis examines how the film genre of horror can be utilized to communicate a coming-of-age narrative to an adolescent audience, including bringing more attention to the sub-genre of “coming-of-age horror.” Many cultures place a high value on the “coming of age” for their young because it represents the process of growing up and achieving maturity through events that greatly and irreversibly change one’s life. The importance of representing adolescent growth and struggles on–screen cannot be understated, as they are one of the most vulnerable age groups when it comes to psychological stressors because of the sudden changes that occur during puberty. Therefore, it is important for producers and directors to create media that resonate with these audiences, and the genre of horror has the potential to do this. The main issue to be addressed in this paper is whether or not the horror genre is an effective way to relay coming-of-age narratives that the audience can identify with in the film and to also bring greater attention to the potential that horror has to relay meaningful messages to audiences. The horror film genre has a history of being viewed as a lesser form of storytelling when compared to other films, but there is potential within this category to tell an impactful coming-of-age story, whether through exploring the monstrous body, overcoming trauma, or managing the fear of overt teen sexuality.



horror, adolescence, coming of age, film


Shierry, A. N. (2023). Growing up is murder: An analysis of coming-of-age narratives in horror films. Honors College, Texas State University.


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