Its Montreal doors have only been open for a little over a year, yet the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is creating quite the stir.
Here is the thing: if you have not heard about it, it is probably because you are not a member of the city’s many horror circles. But fear not! You do not need to be a horror film junkie in order to get a kick out of this one.
“It’s a weekly school of horror, history, and theory courses for youth aged 14 to 29,” said
Kier-La Janisse, the school’s founder. “Kids can come and learn to be critical thinkers
and get to see some obscure films with like-minded fans at the same time.”
The courses are not specifically targeted at film studies students, so anyone interested need not be spooked away if they feel like they do not know anything about the genre.
Janisse’s fascination for horror movies started at the age of three, when she saw a film
called Horror Express. “It was pretty much the first thing I remember,” recalled Janisse.
It was through years of dedication that Janisse was able to meet fellow horror fanatics and gain a reputation within the horror community. Many of the school’s instructors are people whom she knows through those circles and who happen to be teachers at local Montreal schools.
“They also happen to be experts in horror and maybe don’t get to utilize that expertise in their normal classes as much as they’d like to,” she explained. “This is a chance for them to really delve into some of the specificities of their interests.”
In each class, students view an entire film, which allows those who know nothing about the genre to slowly immerse themselves into the horror universe. Through films and lectures, students learn all about the horror films that typically don’t make it on the big screen and are nothing like what you get with Saw.
Horror films are not always violent and can be intellectually challenging, and therein lies the misconception. While many people may assume that all horror films are the same, Janisse points out that “they’re limited in terms of what they see and which horror films have marketing budgets behind them.”
Even though some of the films’ content may be scary, it does not mean that they are not worth seeing. But to avoid any angry parents banging on their doors, Janisse makes sure minors get their parents’ permission.
“Unless they enjoy the genre themselves, a lot of them feel that it’s irresponsible parenting to let their kid watch those kinds of films,” said Janisse. “A lot of them are against it without really knowing that much about the genre itself.”
On top of meeting new people and possibly collaborating on future projects, Janisse and her team of horror experts are essentially teaching their students about history through film.
“A lot of the times that’s how people learn; they learn through pop culture about history. They get a well-rounded view, and end up coming out with a thirst for more.”
Classes begin Sept. 28 at the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, 3660 St-Laurent Blvd. To find out more, check out their website at www.big-smash.com/miskatonic.html