Genre. Its a word that we as fans often find it hard to escape. Divisions, subdivisions, blended tropes and multi-faceted narratives all contribute to this idea that we can always find a place, no matter how small or esoteric, to classify the media we consume. Because no matter what the property, there will always be some kind of genre to place it is, based on whatever we as fans hold sacred.
Take Alien, for example. When I reviewed the movie earlier this month, I bounced around between calling it science fiction and horror, because the film contains many elements from both genres. It was born out of a screenplay for an SF “comedy,” borrowed elements from Jodorowsky’s epic failed Dune adaptation, and borrowed liberally from every SF trope found at the time. But it also dealt with burning tension, jump scares, blood, and the type of monster that came from our nightmares, and acted like a stereotypical slasher villain. Discussions about the movie occasionally asked questions about where it belonged, until the blended genre of SF-horror became more widely accepted, and it found a niche that satisfied both genre fans (or neither, if one is so puritanical about labels).
So how do we as fans assign genre? What do we look for when classifying a property, and how do we alter and adapt our definitions to make wayward media fit? That in itself is a huge question, one that I am ultimately unable to answer, or even begin to explain. Better scholars are tackling the subject, and I eagerly await their findings. Rather than try to go down that route, I want to brooch the subject right here with a film that I watched last week, which defies a lot of genre markers, namely because it has so many to choose from. Director, cinematic activity, music, and setting all play a role in where this film can be placed in the “genre-line,” and at least for me, the film belongs to them all.