In our last post we discussed using horror films in our classes to teach both sociological concepts and critical analysis of media. Here is a template of a movie analysis assignment you can adapt to your own classes. You’ll want to change at least the parts in red (and maybe others depending on your course structure). We recommend assigning a podcast episode as a reference for how to sociologically analyze movies. We’ve had enthusiastic student response to these assignments!

Below are our film recommendations based on course topic.

Please note on the IMDb page for every film is a “Parent’s Guide” section with specific information about violence and sexuality content. This can be used by students and teachers as a reference for trigger warnings.

Introduction to Sociology

Any of the films listed below will work well for an introductory course.

Race and ethnicity

The First Purge (McMurray 2018), Get Out (2017)

Gender and sexuality

Assassination Nation (Levinson 2018), Jennifer’s Body (Kusama 2009), Summer of ‘84 (2018), Ghostland (Laugier 2018), Revenge (Fargeat 2017)

I Spit on Your Grave (1978) (special trigger warning as this has an extensive scene of sexual assault)


The First Purge (McMurray 2018), Thoroughbreds (Finley 2017), Kuso (Lotus 2017), Martin (Romero 1978)

Social Problems

The First Purge (McMurray 2018), The Tall Man (Laugier 2012)

Sociology of Aging

Wiener-dog (Solondz 2016)

Sociology of Violence

Martyrs (Laugier 2008), Assassination Nation (Levinson 2018), I Spit on Your Grave (Zarchi 1978), The First Purge (2018)

Films and episodes we do not recommend for classes because of a lack of sociological content. Some we enjoyed, some we didn’t. Listen to the episodes to find out more.

I Spit on Your Grave (Monroe 2010)

Mandy (Cosmatos 2018)

Night of the Demons (Tenney 1988)

If you are teaching a specific class not included here, we are happy to recommend something for you. Please email us! We’d love to hear your thoughts as well as student reactions!

Marshall Smith earned his PhD in sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011 focusing on gender, sexuality, youth, and media. He currently teaches sociology classes at CU Boulder for the Farrand Residential Academic Program. 

Laura Patterson earned her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011, focusing on environmental issues and the impacts of HIV/AIDS in rural South Africa.  She’s currently a research consultant with a Colorado-based pregnancy prevention program and other federally-funded evaluation efforts, in addition to teaching at CU Boulder and Adams State University.