The term “Southern Gothic” is often used to describe everything from literature to film and television. Originally derogatory, these stories are set in the South and generally have dark themes and events, bordering on horror or crime.
There might be macabre elements but not necessarily including fantasy aspects like vampires, voodoo, or ghosts. Themes include family secrets, the decay of the Old South, violence, and poverty. It’s also been called dark romanticism.
You might have read or seen one of these examples without realizing it. During this spooky time of year, check out these Southern Gothic books, movies, and shows!
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Southern Gothic Literature
Southern Gothic is generally used to describe literature. In these stories, there might be one redeeming character that provides levity to the darkness of the plot.
Authors William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Erskine Caldwell are among those that wrote stories of the Southern Gothic subgenre. Edgar Allan Poe might even be categorized as an early writer of the style.
Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, and Flannery O’Connor also wrote in this style, perhaps even more representative of Southern Gothic than their male counterparts.
Modern writers also fit the bill. Cormac McCarthy, True Blood author Charlaine Harris, and Interview with a Vampire writer Anne Rice could also be included in Southern Gothic. Publisher’s Weekly has a great selection of modern selections, both fiction and non-fiction.
Southern Gothic Films
According to the British Film Institute, among the best Southern Gothic films are those that lean towards film noir. They include the film adaptations of A Streetcar Named Desire, Wise Blood, and To Kill a Mockingbird alongside The Beguiled (1971), Southern Comfort, and Cape Fear (1991).
Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte and Deliverance are also mentioned elsewhere as Southern Gothic stories. Crimes of the Heart and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil are also a fit.
More recently, Winter’s Bone, which elevated a young Jennifer Lawrence to fame, is also on the list. The 2017 remake of The Beguiled, Big Fish, Mud, and Stoker are also versions of Southern Gothic films.
Southern Gothic Television
Southern Gothic also extends to television shows. Ozark is perhaps the best example. Others include Preacher, True Detective, and Bloodline.
Good Behavior could also be included, following the themes of flawed characters and questionable morality, along with Queen Sugar and Lovecraft Country.
Sharp Objects, a limited series based on the book by Gillian Flynn, is a haunting portrayal of a woman returning to her small town following a horrific crime.
Have you read any of these books or seen the movies and shows? Share your favorites below.