Not Quite Horror: “Forrest Gump” (1994)

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Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

Forrest Gump (1994)

The Monster: Though not a major character in the film, Forrest Gump’s monster makes a deep impact in a small amount of screen time.

The monster is a sort of imp that lives inside of the heroic Forrest Gump. When heartache and loss have left him without guidance, this imp compels Forrest to run unceasingly across the country. Forrest is never long-winded, but he seems especially at a loss for words in describing his need to run.

The Horror: Running for long distances is an act of mastery over muscles and pain. Many Americans relish this challenge, as their T-shirts and bumper stickers attest to.

Forrest’s running goes much deeper than that. He simply does not stop, even as his beard grows and his clothes fall to pieces. If Forrest’s body is echoing the emotional agony he feels in his heart, he is a man double damned and driven further and faster.

The Shared Fate: Regardless of your personal religious views, we’ve all been victims of various imps that drive us to despair. Desires and compulsions have pushed us to punish our bodies more and more.

Forrest stretches his agony over the course of years, longer than we hope to suffer. The running portion of the Academy Award winning film seemed out of place to some viewers, but viewed in its rightful horrific state, it becomes the pivotal battle between Forrest’s inner good and evil the movie needed.

— I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen