Here is the full version of the write-up that I did for the article:
Home invasion films get under my skin. Sometimes it takes the hard-hitting intensity of a movie like Inside to terrify me, but other times the simplest slasher can make me uncomfortable. Perhaps it roots back to my indoctrination into the horror genre with Halloween. I remember trying to sleep after watching John Carpenter’s masterpiece for the first time. My bed was situated against a wall which I faced, leaving my back exposed to the empty room. I kept imagining that Michael Myers was standing behind me, his pallid mask hovering like a ghost in the darkness. However, my fear of the home invasion might be based on something more elementary. I grew up on 10 forested acres in a rural area of Washington State. There was no next-door neighbor. There were no paved roads for a mile. If someone were to prey on my childhood home, it might resemble scenes found in The Strangers or Them. Whatever the circumstance, it is horrifying to imagine that you are not safe in your own residence. Absolutely no one wants to wake up to the sound of unknown footsteps downstairs or to the sight of a shadowy figure leaning over the bedside.
My fear of the home invasion may also be a matter of national and temporal relations. The history of the American horror film can be traced by the movement of threats from an external/otherworldly place to an internal/next-door approach. Flying saucers, scientific experiments, and foreign beasts evolved into the psychopath behind the white picket fence or the idyllic child with ungodly intentions. The modern American horror movement begins with the exploitation films of the seventies, which informed us that evil was within. The slasher parade of the eighties told us that the masked killer would prey on those who live in sin. The nineties, rendered in self-reflexivity, taught us that our homes were no longer safe and that typical horror conventions would no longer save us. And here we are in the new millennium: an era that has stretched postmodernism so thin that it relies on nihilism for shock. With this change comes an assault on the human being in the most forceful ways possible. Invading the home, torturing its inhabitants, demolishing concepts of security, toying with mores, and obliterating hope are some of the most frightening tools a filmmaker can harness.
I think filmgoers often forget about the importance of theme, especially in horror films. A loud noise might make me jump and a well-executed chase scene may raise my heartbeat, but the theme, played out through tone and plot, is what I feel when I watch the film and it is what I spend days thinking about. Through whichever means I rationalize my innate fear of home invasion themes, whether it be emotional or intellectual logic, I just know that these movies scare me and I enjoy them.