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How global warming is changing horror

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We’re seeing the growth of a new genre

A new genre of horror has begun to emerge over the last decade: eco-horror, stories in which the planet itself is the monster. Prior to the early 2000s, when Nature was the monster in a horror movie, it was either animals run amok, like Jaws or The Birds, or plant-creatures, as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Little Shop of Horrors.

Except that the plants in question are actually aliens that just happen to look like plants.

That’s an important distinction, because until recently, we just assumed that if a plant were going to kill us, it must have come from outer space. Our trust in our own planet was so intrinsic, we never even questioned it.

But that’s been changing since 2006, when An Inconvenient Truth was released and raised climate change awareness across the planet. Since then, we’ve seen more and more eco-horror, such as The Happening, The Ruins, The Last of Us, The Girl with All the Gifts, and Annihilation. Each of these movies involves deadly plants that are ... just plants. They’re not aliens come to destroy us; they’re just terrestrial species that have evolved to target humans.

Eco-horror represents the new existential dread we feel about the irreversible damage we‘ve done to the planet — and the knowledge that Earth is increasingly less hospitable to us on a basic level. Watch the FiendZone video above to learn more about the evolution of this new existential dread.