Southern Discomfort - A Primer on Southern Gothic Horror and Project Midnight

Earlier today, Windows Central reported on Project Midnight Compulsion’s new Single Player AAA Game.

WindowsCentral describes the game as:

Midnight is described as a “coming of age” tale drawing upon inspirations from America’s Deep South. The game features magic and large fantastical beasts with a strong “southern gothic” vibe. The game is a wholly single-player experience, with what has been described to me as a “strong” story.

Now what is Southern Gothic Horror? For some Americans, they are familiar with the concept. However, as Xbox (and XboxERA) attemps to branch out internationally, the term “Souther Gothic Horror” just sounds like word soup.

Southern Gothic Horror is an American as baseball, as it the deep seeded issues it draws from.

To know that let’s define what Gothic Horror is.

What is Gothic Horror?

Gothic fiction , sometimes called Gothic horror in the 20th century, is a genre of literature and film that covers horror, death and at times [romance]

What is Southern Gothic?

Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction in American literature that takes place in the American South.

Common themes in Southern Gothic literature include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may be involved in hoodoo,[1] decayed or derelict settings,[2] grotesque situations, and other sinister events relating to or stemming from poverty, alienation, crime, or violence.

What are the characteristics of Southern Gothic?

The Southern Gothic style employs macabre, ironic events to examine the values of the American South.[5] Thus unlike its parent genre, it uses the Gothic tools not solely for the sake of suspense, but to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character of the American South – Gothic elements often taking place in a magic realist context rather than a strictly fantastical one.[6]

Warped rural communities replaced the sinister plantations of an earlier age; and in the works of leading figures such as William Faulkner, Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Connor, the representation of the South blossomed into an absurdist critique of modernity as a whole.[3]

Many characteristics in Southern Gothic Literature relate to its parent genre of American gothic and even to European gothic. However, the setting of these works is distinctly Southern. Some of these characteristics include exploring madness, decay and despair, continuing pressures of the past upon the present, particularly with the lost ideals of a dispossessed Southern aristocracy and continued racial hostilities.[4]

Southern Gothic particularly focuses on the South’s history of slavery, racism, fear of the outside world, violence, a “fixation with the grotesque, and a tension between realistic and supernatural elements”.[4]

Similar to the elements of the Gothic castle, Southern Gothic gives us the decay of the plantation in the post-Civil War South.[4]

Villains who disguise themselves as innocents or victims are often found in Southern Gothic Literature, especially stories by Flannery O’Connor, such as Good Country People and The Life You Save May Be Your Own , giving us a blurred line between victim and villain.[4]

Southern Gothic literature set out to expose the myth of old antebellum South, and its narrative of an idyllic past hidden by social, familial, and racial denials and suppressions.[7]

As you can see, Southern Gothic draws itself from the real world horrors of Antebellum (Slavery) era of the South as well as the hardships and racism that freed African Americans faced during the Reconstruction era.

What is Hoodoo?

Hoodoo is a set of spiritual practices, traditions, and beliefs which was created and concealed from slave-owners by enslaved Africans in North America.[1] Hoodoo evolved from various traditional African religions and practices, and in the American South, incorporated various elements of indigenous botanical knowledge.[2] In the Gullah South Carolina Lowcountry, Hoodoo is also known as “Lowcountry Voodoo.”[3][4] Following the Great Migration of African-Americans, Hoodoo spread throughout the United States. Practitioners of Hoodoo are called rootworkers, conjure doctors, conjure man or conjure woman, and Hoodoo doctors. Regional synonyms for hoodoo include conjure or rootwork.[5]

What is the Reconstruction Era?

The Reconstruction era was the period after the American Civil War from 1865 to 1877 , during which the United States grappled with the challenges of reintegrating into the Union the states that had seceded and determining the legal status of African American.

So as you can see, Project Midnight, which features a black female lead, is going to dig into some themes. Expect music to play a huge part in the game as according to Wikipedia:

Southern Gothic (also known as Gothic Americana, or Dark Country) is a genre of acoustic-based alternative rock and Americana music that combines elements of traditional country, folk, blues, and gospel, often with dark lyrical subject matter. The genre shares thematic connections with the Southern Gothic genre of literature, and indeed the parameters of what makes something Gothic Americana appears to have more in common with literary genres than traditional musical ones. Songs often examine poverty, criminal behavior, religious imagery, death, ghosts, family, lost love, alcohol, murder, the devil and betrayal.[28]

Well Prog, this sound so very interesting, what are some examples of Southern Gothic and Southern Gothic Horror that I can enjoy now?

Glad you asked!

Lovecraft Country

Perhaps no better example of perhaps the tone we could possibly expect from Midnight based upon the leaked description is Lovecraft Country.

Atticus Black joins his friend Letitia and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father.

Combines the elder horror aspects of HP Lovecraft with the Jim Crowe Era Southern Racism, this is the perfect show to get a feel for Southern Gothic Horror that mixes adventure, horror, magic, and more.

*Deliverance *

Some movies loom large in the American imagination, and Deliverance is one of those. Focusing on a group of men who go on a rafting expedition, it still has the power to terrify and disturb audiences. It’s one of those movies that takes a rather dim view of the rural inhabitants of the south, and the people that torment the rafters are some of the most chilling creations ever conjured by Hollywood.

The Skeleton Key

Sometimes, southern gothic verges into the realm of the horrific, and that’s certainly the case with The Skeleton Key . Given that it takes place in Louisiana, it’s not at all surprising that supernatural forces play a large part in the movie’s plot and, given that this is southern gothic, there all sorts of family secrets and a crumbling mansion.

Most importantly, though, the movie also shines a rather harsh light on the issue of racism, which is one of the aspects of southern culture that always lurks just outside of the frame in most southern gothic stories.

Frailty (2001)

Absolute banger of a horror-movie with the late great Bill Paxton. Must see.

It’s quite common knowledge that religion, particularly Christianity, plays a pretty prominent role in southern life (there’s a reason it’s called the Bible belt). That’s the central point of Frailty , a movie that focuses on a man who is convinced that he’s been ordered by God to carry out the destruction of demons.

What’s truly great about this movie, however, is how it manages to be incredibly disturbing, sometimes even terrifying, without leaning too heavily into the tropes of straight-up horror.

Angel Heart

For some reason, Louisiana, in particular New Orleans, is a particularly favorite site for southern gothic movies. Perhaps it’s the fact that the city has such a complex history, having been under the dominion of the Spanish, the French, and finally the Americans.

Whatever the reason, it is the setting for the movie Angel Heart , which focuses on a private investigator who goes to the city and finds things get much darker than he expected. It’s an intriguing and frightening movie, and it reveals new depths with each rewatch.

True Detective Season 1 & 3

Two truly phenomial series that oozes Southern Gothic Horror.

Season 1 follows Woody “Carnage” Harrilson and his partner Matthew “Alright Alright Alright” Maca-whatever as they investigate the murder of a local women staged in a nearly Satanic tableau.

Season 3 follows Oscar Winner Mareshalla Ali and his partner investigating the disappearance of a local child against the backdrop of a Louisana Gulf in the 90’s where racism and secrets run deep.

Hopefully now you can see why the backdrop of Southern Gothic is an exciting backdrop for Compulsions Project Midnight.

Southern Gothic draws it’s inspiration from the deepest worst parts of American History to tell stories that are still as relevant today as when they were created following the American Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crowe/Civil Rights era.


Damn Prog brought the receipts, this is great :fire::fire::fire:

1 Like

Oh my, this game will be absolutely incredible won’t it?


1 Like

Did this thread help you understand the term “Southern Gothic Horror” by any chance?

Want feedback on this.


Yes! I had no idea what it was. Great thread Prog :slight_smile: Of all the things you listed I’ve only seen True Detective S1, and I loved that.

1 Like

Man, I love discovering “new” settings… This sounds more awesome the more I dig into it. As a European it’s all very alien haha.


I immediately thought of Lovercraft county when I read the term southern gothic. Also, this has me hyped, can’t wait

1 Like

Glad everyone likes the thread.


Probably will be similar to Bloodborne visually.

1 Like

great thread, learned a lot, thanks @ProgStopper

I already knew it, but yeah, it’s wildly different from our european gothic: to us it means mostly huge cathedrals and gargoyles. XD

Great thread @ProgStopper. :vulcan_salute:


Rorona is correct. Southern Gothic is incredibly visually different from standard “European Gothic” style.

Found some examples of what “Southern Gothic” looks like:


Would True Blood fit into this as well? Or nah

It absolutely does!

It’s mentioned as part of a long list of Gothic Horror media.

1 Like


Television series[edit]

This list covers both Southern Gothic and Southern Gothic Horror.


Excellent topic Prog!!

Really looking forward to seeing the game when it eventually gets revealed.

1 Like

Game wise, Hunt: Showdown is probably a good example. Outlast 2 too if I understand right

1 Like

Amazingly well done thread.

Looking to know more about this. And this should help speed up the process.

Great fucking thread Prog . This game is shaping up to be extremely close to my dream game .

1 Like

Fantastic thread!

1 Like