Killer Pov: First-Person Camera and Sympathetic Identification in Modern Horror

  • Adam Charles Hart Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh
Keywords: horror, point-of-view, 70s, film


Killer POV—a subjective camera without a reverse shot—is at the center of many of the most influential critical writings on modern horror. However, these discussions often start from the assumption that the camera’s point of view produces identification. This essay attempts to disengage our understanding of horror spectatorship from such models and to provide an alternative reading of killer POV that engages with the genre’s structures of looking/being looked at while remaining sensitive to what precisely is being communicated to viewers by these shots. Killer POV signals to the viewer the presence of a threat without displaying the monster/killer/bearer of the look onscreen. In addition to keeping the threat un-embodied (or only vaguely embodied) and unplaced, killer POV alerts the viewer to the films’ withholding of crucial diegetic information, both of which are essential to understanding the unique mode of spectatorship provoked by modern horror films.


Author Biography

Adam Charles Hart, Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Adam Charles Hart is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. His book, Monstrous Forms: Moving-Image Horror Across Media is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. His work has appeared in The New Review of Film and Television and A Companion to the Horror Film (Wiley, 2014), with articles forthcoming in The Journal of Cinema and Media Studies and Discourse.

Adam Charles Hart est professeur adjoint attaché au département d’études du film à l’université de Pittsburgh. Son livre Monstrous Forms: Moving-Image Horror Across Media va être publié à Oxford University Press. Ses recherches ont paru dans The New Review of Film and Television et A Companion to Horror Films (Wiley, 2014), d’autres articles vont paraître dans le Journal of Cinema and Media Stories et Discourse.

How to Cite
Hart, A. (2018). Killer Pov: First-Person Camera and Sympathetic Identification in Modern Horror. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 9(1), 69-86.