The critical essay, due the last week of class and submitted within the last lesson in the **CONTENT*** folder, will be your most important assignment for this course. It will be available for submission from the beginning of Monday until the end of Thursday during the final week of class. A lecture providing advice for writing critical essays in general is included here:


The critical essay, to be submitted as a double-spaced Word-compatible file through Blackboard via SAFEASSIGN, should be between 2000 and 4000 words in length. It should be in the form of a well-written essay, with a clearly stated thesis and a convincing argument in favor of that thesis. References to outside sources, supporting your argument and demonstrating your research, should be included. MLA style is recommended, but any style is acceptable as long as it is consistent throughout the essay and contains sufficient information to identify the outside source. Pay close attention to this rubric and make sure that your essay meets the criteria that are spelled out in the rubric.


In addition, note that the essay will be graded according to the following rubric:

Opening paragraph clearly states a thesis for the essay: 8 pts.

Essay shows signs of supporting research: 8 pts.

Essay is well-written and uses proper grammar: 8 pts.

Proper use of evidence in the argument: 8 pts.

Argument is rhetorically effective and convincing: 8 pts.


The following suggested topics are intended to give students an idea of the kinds of topics that are likely to make successful critical essays. These topics my be used directly, or they simply may be used as guidance for students who wish to develop their own topics. Regardless of your topic, be sure to develop a specific thesis that expresses your point of view on the topic. Also, be sure that the essay addresses a topic that is relevant to the material covered in this course. This focus might be best achieved by writing on texts that are covered in the syllabus, though it is acceptable to address relevant texts that are not on the syllabus.

  • Choose one film from our syllabus and one film not on the syllabus. Compare and contrast these two films in terms of their treatment of certain specific issues.
  • Choose any film from our syllabus and explain why you believe it represents a particularly important advance in horror film.
  • Compare and contrast the representation of women in any two films from our syllabus.
  • Choose any two films from our syllabus and discuss the ways in which those films make use of past films as a resource for their own construction.
  • Choose one or more films from our syllabus and discuss the ways this film (or these films) engage with specific real-world political issues.
  • Choose any film from our syllabus and discuss the ways in which it differs from what people tend to expect a horror film to be.
  • Discuss the issue of whether or not the term “smart” horror denigrates earlier horror films.