Ripe with outdated ideals and stereotypes, it’s no wonder men dominate the horror genre. In recent years, we’ve seen an influx of badass final girls and more women taking the lead. It can be tough to be a feminist who loves horror films, but I’ve found way to make it easier. Instead of just hanging your feminist hat at the door, why not make a point of watching some horror directed by women?
So many brilliant filmmakers are working tirelessly to smash the gender constructs this genre has had in place all these years. An obvious example would be the endless amount of films crushing the Final Girl trope. We’ve had films that cater to the female gaze as well as films with relatable stories. In addition to that, we’ve also seen examples where women can terrify us the same men do.
Here are just a few of the excellent horror films made by women you should watch this month.
Silent House, Laura Lau
The Final Girl never went away; she evolved.As our protagonist becomes trapped in her family’s derelict shoreline house, this film is an experimental take on the house-as-prison metaphor. In recent years, there has been a rise in directors challenging audiences to identify with female protagonists within the horror genre. Horror has always been dominated by men (both on and off screen), so this is great to see. Silent House does this without resorting to the outdated tropes of the genre. Instead we find ourselves encapsulated in this extremely intense and uncomfortable ‘real time’. The entire movie is a woman’s reality. (updated 4/09/17)
The Invitation, Karyn Kusama
For too long, horror films have relied on cheap scares and lots of gore. There was a time where I stopped watching horror and it’s films like this that make me love the genre again. I feel like Karyn Kusama directing style is misunderstood. Studios have let her down in the past as both Aeon Flux and Jennifer’s Body were re-edited and marketed to the wrong crowd. The Invitation is where she really shines and is by far her best work. This film is an incredibly slow burner, but the payoff is huge. An awkward and intense dinner with exes in a huge creepy house? With a jaw-dropping reveal? What more could you want! This is a film you definitely need to stick with and it is very very slow. I hope we don’t have to wait another seven years for a film like this.
The Slumber Party Massacre, Rita Mae Brown
The Slumber Party Massacre is a hilarious, parodic slasher movie written by a feminist. If you’re a fan of the Scream franchise and how it subverts its own genre, you will appreciate this film too. Released around the same time as other popular slashers, such as Halloween and Friday The 13th, this film might be the first feminist slasher flick. Rule number one is to not have sex if you want to survive in the horror world. I don’t want to give away too much, but you’ll find a different message throughout this film. All you need to do is look at who is alive by the end of the movie and why. Not only is the a strength of sisterhood ever present, gender roles are completely reversed too as women take the lead.
American Mary, The Soska Sisters
I don’t think we’ll ever find the perfect feminist horror movie, but American Mary is a good start. Why? Because the sister’s shared ideologies are on full show here: the strength of women, a love and fascination for body modification as well as support for gender equality. Katharine Isabelle is a seasoned and highly underrated Scream Queen, who first graced our screens as menstruating wolf in Ginger Snaps. In American Mary, The Soska Sisters let this antiheroine shine without putting too much effort into making her likeable (which is a rarity for fictional on-screen women in general). Another great thing about this horror is the fact that characters who are considered freaky are shown in all their humanity, whilst the social accepted people are the real demons.
Honeymoon, Leigh Janiak
Honeymoon is one of the most interesting horror films I’ve seen in recent years. It’s slow, intense and geniunely confusing. It’s one of those films that won’t blow you away, but you also can’t stop watching it either. A new bride goes sleepwalking into the woods on her honeymoon. When her new husband takes her home, there is something frighteningly different about her. It’s a rather brave directional debut and a very interesting female-driven horror.
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another Blogtober post!