The horror genre wears masks of various shapes, sizes, and textures in the creative outlets in which it exists. While often criticized and chastised by the craftiest of pop culture critics, the general agreement is that the genre successfully fulfills its purpose in satisfying a craving for screams while providing a sub-cultured home for a specific demographic of misfits. Although the reasoning behind the genre's ever-growing popularity and continued financial success can easily be accredited to surface-level identifiers such as these, for the purposes of horror-based theatre, I believe they can more accurately be attributed to reasons far more psychoanalytical. This thesis seeks to examine the evolution of horror-based theatre and analyze its relationship with psychoanalytical theory. I propose that in order to push the genre forward and execute it to its highest potential, the practitioner of horror-based theatre must approach their work with a well-crafted understanding of psychoanalytical theory while also executing the three essential elements of horror: escapism, immersion, and participation. Julia Kristeva's Theory of Abjection, detailed through the theoretical research in her 'Powers of Horror' text, will act as the foundation for my research, as I find its principles and values to align themselves strongly with the tools I believe a creator of horror-based theatre should possess. While many professionals and practitioners in our world still fail to recognize the haunt industry as a pure form of theatre, others understand its responsibility in ushering horror-based theatre into the next stage of its evolution, considering all three of the essential elements are at play within the confines of a haunted experience. I too propose that the sub-genre's next evolutionary phase will come as the result of the continued growth of the haunt industry. However, a better understanding of abject theory should work in tandem with the immersive technologies of the haunt world in ensuring that the practitioner executes the experience to its fullest capabilities. As a practical element of my thesis project, I will detail my experience working in the haunt industry from a directorial perspective in determining if a theoretical lens, in conjunction with emerging forms of immersive technologies, can not only help reassure the continued prominence of horror-based theatre, but promote its evolution and empower its growth.


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Graduation Date





Boyd, Belinda


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program





CFE0008366; DP0023803





Release Date

December 2020

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)