Embodied aesthetics: the duets of camera and body in La Casa Muda (Gustavo Hernandez, 2010)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


While horror has always been a body genre, as noted by Linda Williams (1991), there is more to be said concerning the ways in which horror’s stylistic strategies harness the responsiveness of bodies both onscreen and off. Taking the Uruguayan film, La Casa Muda / The Silent House (Gustavo Hernández, 2010), as a case study, this paper will explore a key element in the embodied dynamics of contemporary international horror, that of the relationship between camera and body. The use of a handheld camera – itself not an entirely new approach within the horror genre – connects La Casa Muda to other 21st Century horror films from across the globe, such as [Rec] (Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza, Spain, 2008) and Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, USA, 2009). As a stylistic strategy it both intensifies a corporeal connection through shared movement, as well as putting further and material pressure on the potential for shock and disturbance so important to horror’s affect. The performer’s place in relation to the camera is as important as the camera movements themselves, and also, as noted by scholars interested in the sensory properties of cinema, to the bodies of the audience. The degree to which the onscreen body controls the spatial position of the camera and its movement is a significant element of how we engage with that body, and thus the relationship between the body onscreen and our own. My analysis will seek to highlight the ways in which La Casa Muda explores the potential of this relationship between camera and bodies in order to heighten the affective impact of the film’s horror, drawing bodies off and onscreen into a complex dance of proximity and rupture.
PeriodJun 2019
Event titleFear 2000
Event typeConference
LocationSheffield, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • horror
  • aesthetics
  • embodiment