Messaging the Monstrous


Jun 23–Jul 2, 2022


You’re Next. 2011. USA. Directed by Adam Wingard. © Lionsgate. Courtesy Photofest
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1 The Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center

Born from Italian giallo films but distinctly American, the slasher movie has had its hold on audiences since the 1970s. Known established tropes like masked killers, black gloves, topless women, sharp knives, and “final girls,” these violent whodunits are sometimes a lot smarter than they appear. Imbued with collective cultural traumas, the slasher film digests our sociopolitical climate and spits it back into our faces. Topics such as war, gas shortages, capitalism, conservatism, sexuality, lost youth, sexism, and the family form a subversive subtext wrapped up in gore, screams, and sometimes even a laugh. The slasher “signature” has become so pervasive that, for better or worse, it has become synonymous with the very idea of what a “horror film” is, and other styles of genre films often find the comparison hard to escape.

This opening section of Horror: Messaging the Monstrous represents the slasher’s continuous cycle of influence and reproduction. Grounded by a pair of foundational works, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood, this grouping of films includes beloved classics like Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, Amy Holden Jones’s Slumber Party Massacre, and Wes Craven’s Scream, and pairs them with neo-slashers like Amer and Knife + Heart, as well as films like It Follows and You’re Next, which mold the slasher principle into something new. We’ll be right back….

Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Curator, and Brittany Shaw, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, with Caryn Coleman, guest curator.

  • This film series is part of Horror: Messaging the Monstrous.

    Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

    Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.



    If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

    MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

    If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


    This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].