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The Screaming

<excerpt> (requires Quicktime to view). Total running time of the entire work, 11mins
video, 2007

The startling scream is a device used across film genres, but particularly in horror, to effectively ensure the viewer has not slipped into a state of comfort or complacency. Just when the coast has cleared, the monster rises again for one more stab or bite at the collective horror nerve. Accompanying this visual lurch is often a piercing scream by a protagonist female, the sound of which amplifies and suspends the horrifying effect, rendering it visceral.

The scream is an outward sign that the character in the film has lost her calm, and a signal to viewers that perhaps they ought to scream too. I insert myself into scenes from well-known horror films from the 1970s onward. My presence serves not as a self-portrait but as a zone of fantasy - my protagonist screams at the horror not out of helpless fear but with a powerful, sometimes destructive force that scares or even blows the monsters away.


Writes Trent Morse on Saatchi Gallery's Daily Magazine,

"Mcdonald reverses traditional roles of killer and victim by defeating her tormentors with piecing screams. Early in the video, she seems surprised when her shrieks cause villains, such as Michael Myers from Halloween or Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, to fearfully retreat. Towards the end, however, she revels in her power and becomes a killer in her own right, culminating in a scream that prompts the fiery explosion of a bloblike creature from the B-movie Slither. Mcdonald's shrieking character is an empowered woman using her presumed weakness as a sonic bludgeon, but always in a humorous way. The brevity of the movie clips, removed from their plots and storylines, exaggerates the silliness of these horror films. Each time I saw the video, Mcdonald's grossed-out reactions to her conquered enemies elicited grins and even out-loud laughter from gallery goers, a rarity in an art world that sometimes takes itself too seriously."