Consider the theme outside the context of our characters. The “demons of our past” in relation to our setting and genre, in this case, is the broken promise of the “western nation.” This idea is most pointedly showcased in the settler expansion of manifest destiny— the demon of America’s past being built upon what many considered at the time to be a divine ordination. Manifest destiny is the stasis of our genre and setting. This is the the theme that America, and in turn the western genre itself, must confront. The period nature also simplifies the stakes for both our characters and genre by taking away everything but the most relatable human instinct: survival. The survival of our characters, and the survival of the western movie, hinge on the confrontation of their pasts.  

The symbolism of the Werewolf follows close at hand. A myth that is shared across a wide variety of religions, peoples, and nations. The lore of the Werewolf, in the case of our theme, setting, and genre, acts as our antithesis. It stems as early as the Hebrew Scriptures of the Ketuvim— when Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, is transformed by madness into a “wild animal” because of pride and sin. The curse of the Werewolf in christian faiths is generally tied to the idea of “christian morality,” that being a false christian would illicit the werewolf curse. In the case of our story, it’s the unquestioned (and ultimately immoral) belief in christian entitlement to the west that leads to the very christian curse of being pursued by the myth of the Werewolf. 

To put it bluntly, manifest destiny and its settler expansion was paralleled by unrelenting cruelty— an act that contradicts the very values most emigrants claimed to uphold, despite their “best intentions.” I am critiquing that hypocrisy by terrorizing the guilty and innocent with their own myth— to make the worst sinner among them, the one who refuses the call of the theme, turn into a creature that haunts and kills his own family with the same impartial cruelty they show even when they are human.