The Cinema of Apprehension

The Security Aesthetic in Bollywood’s High-Rise Horror

by Bishnupriya Ghosh


In this new essay Bishnupriya Ghosh theorizes a constellation of “high-rise horror” films from contemporary Bollywood as a cinema of apprehension. Ghosh elaborates an emergent “techno-aesthetic of security” that plunges spectators into an immersive experience of horror, orienting them to the violence of acute dispossession (of lands and livelihoods) catalyzed by current speculative financial globalization.

BISHNUPRIYA GHOSH teaches postcolonial theory, literature, and global media studies in the English Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is currently working on two monographs on speculative knowledge and globalization: The Unhomely Sense: Spectral Cinemas of Globalization and The Virus Touch: Living with Epidemics.

This essay is from Representations‘ current special issue Financialization and the Culture IndustryThe introduction to the issue by C. D. Blanton, Colleen Lye, and Kent Puckett, is available online free of charge.

Jeffrey Knapp,“’Throw That Junk!’ The Art of the Movie in Citizen Kane”

“But if Kane’s indiscriminate mixture of ‘the junk as well as the art’
lowers objets to the level of the mass-produced, it has the opposite effect
on the dime-store goods in his collection: it raises them to the level of the
objet. ‘Throw that junk,’ the sardonic butler commands, gesturing toward
the pile of trash with Rosebud in it, but the joke is on him: he could have
made a thousand dollars from that sled, if he had managed to differentiate
it from the hodgepodge around him. The sled was never junk to
Kane, of course, or rather, it was never merely junk: in the furnace of his imagination, where priceless art could substitute for bric-a-brac, a sled could
also substitute for priceless art.”

From Issue #122 (available here)


D. A. Miller, “Hitchcock’s Understyle: A Too-Close View of Rope”

“The story of the perfect crime, I said earlier, is the story of the perfect crime’s failure; let me now add that, normally, that failure doesn’t affect the story’s form. On the contrary, it is precisely the crime’s failure that allows the story form to display the superiority of its own contrivance. The character whose mandate is to make a mistake is caught in a duel with the author whose equally mandated prescience is always exploiting the mistake
to successful narrative effect. In this structurally unequal contest, the protagonist’s not quite-perfect crime proves the foil for the author’s infallible perfect-crime story.”

From Issue #121 (available here)