Despite the Gothic’s much-discussed resurgence in mainstream American culture, the role the late 2000s financial crisis played in sustaining this renaissance has garnered insufficient critical attention. This article finds the Gothic tradition deployed in contemporary American narrative film to explore the impact of economic crisis and threat, and especially masculine anxieties about a perceived incapacity of men and fathers to protect vulnerable families and homes. Variously invoking the American and Southern Gothics, Take Shelter (2011) and Winter’s Bone (2010) represent how the domestic-everyday was made unfamiliar, unsettling and threatening in the face of metaphorical and real (socio-)economic crisis and disorder. The films’ explicit engagement with contemporary American economic malaise and instability thus illustrates the Gothic’s continued capacity to lay bare historical and cultural moments of national crisis. Illuminating culturally persistent anxieties about the American male condition, Take Shelter and Winter’s Bone materially evoke the Gothic tradition’s ability to scrutinize otherwise unspeakable national anxieties about male capacity to protect home and family, including through a focus on economic-cultural “white Otherness.” The article further asserts the significance of prominent female assumption of the protective role, yet finds that, rather than individuating the experience of financial crisis on failed men, both films deftly declare its systemic, whole-of-society basis. In so doing, the Gothic sensibility of pervasive anxiety and dread in Take Shelter and Winter’s Bone disrupts dominant national discursive tendencies to revivify American institutions of traditional masculinity, family and home in the wakes of 9/11 and the recession.
Barker, Deborah, and Kathryn B. McKee. “Introduction: The Southern Imaginary.” American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary. Ed. Deborah Barker and Kathryn B. McKee. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2011. 1–23. Print.
Bell, James. “Meth and the Maiden.” Sight and Sound 20.10 (2010): 28–29. Print.
Berra, John. “American Independent Gothic: Winter’s Bone.” The Gothic Imagination. 2011. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.
Blake, Linnie. “Vampires, Mad Scientists and the Unquiet Dead: Gothic Ubiquity in Post-9/11 US Television.” The Gothic in Contemporary Literature and Popular Culture: Pop Goth. Ed. Justin Edwards and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet. London: Routledge, 2012. 37–56. Print.
Boyle, Kirk. “The Imagination of Economic Disaster: Eco-Catastrophe Films of the Great Recession.” The Great Recession in Fiction, Film, and Television: 21st Century Bust Culture. Ed. Kirk Boyle and Daniel Mrozowski. Lanham: Lexington, 2013. 3–28. Print.
Donnar, Glen. “‘Ah, You Lose You in There’: Gothic Masculinities, Specters of Vietnam and Becoming Monstrous in Southern Comfort.” War Gothic in Literature and Culture. Ed. Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet and Steffen Hantke. New York: Routledge, 2015. 136–53. Print.
Goddu, Teresa A. “American Gothic.” The Routledge Companion to Gothic. Ed. Catherine Spooner and Emma McEvoy. Hoboken: Taylor, 2007. 63–71. Print.
Inside Job. Dir. Charles Ferguson. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2010. DVD.
Leeuwen, Evert Jan Van. “Gothic Eurowesterns: A Grotesque Perspective on a Hollywood Myth.” Bright Lights Film Journal 60 (2008): n. pag. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
Margin Call. Dir. J. C. Chandor. Becker Film Group, 2011. DVD.
Negra, Diana, and Yvonne Tasker. “Introduction. Gender and Recessionary Culture.” Gendering the Recession: Media and Culture in an Age of Austerity. Ed. Diana Negra and Yvonne Tasker. Durham: Duke UP, 2014. 1–30. Print.
Pinkerton, Nick. “Southern Gothic.” Sight & Sound 25.5 (2015): 44–50. Print.
Pinkerton, Nick. “Trouble in Mind.” Sight & Sound 21.12 (2011): 46–48. Print.
Punter, David. “The Uncanny.” The Routledge Companion to Gothic. Ed. Catherine Spooner and Emma McEvoy. Hoboken: Taylor, 2007. 129–36. Print.
Punter, David, and Glennis Byron. The Gothic. Malden: Wiley, 2004. Print.
Savoy, Eric. “The Face of the Tenant: A Theory of the American Gothic.” American Gothic: New Interventions in a National Narrative. Ed. Robert K. Martin and Eric Savoy. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2009. 3–19. Print.
Shotgun Stories. Dir. Jeff Nichols. Madman Entertainment, 2009. DVD.
Soltysik Monnet, Agnieszka. The Poetics and Politics of the American Gothic: Gender and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010. Print.
Sorrento, Matthew. “Searching the Wasteland: Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone.” The New American Crime Film. Jefferson: McFarland, 2012. Print.
Take Shelter. Dir. Jeff Nichols. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2012. DVD.
Warwick, Alex. “Feeling Gothicky?” Gothic Studies 9.1 (2007): 5–15. Print.
Winter’s Bone. Dir. Debra Granik. Lionsgate, 2010. DVD.