Friday, April 8, 2011

Everybody Say "Die"

There are plenty of different sites and publications devoted to horror, but few of them are given over to a specific artistic path. Other than in the literary or cinematic world, there's not a lot of folks who would put the word "horror" in front of their occupation. You rarely see terms like "horror sculptor" or "horror chef" floating around. Well, meet Joshua Hoffine, horror photographer.

"This breastfeeding is KILLING me."

Spooky, yes? Since early 2008, Mr. Hoffine has been making headlines with his provocative, occasionally controversial work. Fascinated by the psychology of fear, he gives all of his photos the film set treatment, with specialty construction, elaborate make-up, costumes, props, and actors. Hoffine doesn't skimp on the gore, throwing stage blood and fake insides everywhere. There's elements of fairy tales, slasher films, torture porn (thankfully, not too much), and universal fears, such as the fear of monsters under the bed. His daughters often act as the soon-to-be victims, with close friends and family (even grandma!) filling in for the hideous freaks lurking around the corner.

What makes these creepy scenes work is the primal, almost primitive nature of the terrors laid out in front of us. Who hasn't carefully checked a noise coming from the basement, or worried that some cannibalistic beast was living in the bedroom closet, or thought that the clown at our friend's birthday party was just... wrong? According to the photographer, these fears lose intensity as we grow older, most of us dismissing them as immature and irrational. But all it takes is one night alone in the house during a thunderstorm, and these worries come rushing back to us, courtesy of our damned subconscious. These pictures capture that fear perfectly, making us sympathize with the innocents who are going to suffer so, or worse, giving us a vantage point that makes the viewer guaranteed to be next on the chopping block. Brrr.

Hoffine's portfolio certainly has its detractors, but make no mistake, this is art. Disgusting, disturbing, destructive art. In motion, many of these vignettes would seem overdone, perhaps downright hokey. Frozen in place however, they linger behind the eyes like so many nightmares. It doesn't matter what you're afraid of, Joshua Hoffine has it covered. Be sure to check out his website, which includes a link to his behind-the-scenes blog where he breaks down the shooting of select photographs. And good luck sleeping tonight. 

Oh all right, here's one to lighten the mood:

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