If October means to you what it does me, this month is all about movies, movies, movies.
Scary ones, to be exact. The horror genre consistently pushes the boundaries of norm and challenges constructions of our everyday world– including gender. It’s often been said in critical circles that the horror genre is one of the only that allows female characters to speak as much as males. In the spooky season, it’s important to explore the films that delve into female representation alongside their thrills. Whether they be heroines or female villains, you won’t want to miss out on these female-centric films redefining what it means to be a scream queen.
Here are 13 feminist horror flicks to watch this October:
1. XX (2017)
If you’re looking for female-centric horror entertainment, XX is definitely for you. Female written and directed, XX is horror anthology focused on four distinctly female tales or terror. Directors Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin and Karyn Kusama band together to create an empowered storybook of creepy female experience.
2. Knock Knock (2015)
Knock Knock is an underrated gem from the mind of
total babe horror genius Eli Roth. This thriller sees Keanu Reeves in psychological torment after two unsuspicious young women set his life ablaze in one weekend. These female villains are sexy, devious and off their rockers– but above all else, provide well-rounded female characterizations in their roles as antagonists.
3. Ginger Snaps (2000)
This cult-classic hit is a not-so-subtle critique on the teen female experience… with werewolves. Ginger Snaps follows sisters Ginger and Brigitte, who, after an encounter with a deranged creature find themselves with an appetite for boys. This film is delightful, bloody and metaphorical; Ginger Snaps makes light of puberty’s confusion and what it’s like to be a teen girl with a beastly twist.
4. Hush (2016)
I stumbled upon Hush as a recommended film on Netflix– and I was totally floored by this masterful slasher indie. Hush follows author Maddie on her race against time to escape a home invader. The catch? She’s deaf… and she uses it to her advantage! Hush proudly presents audiences with a heroine who crushes sexist and ableist expectations in a thrilling fight for her life.
5. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Watching this film in the seventh grade gave my budding sexuality plenty to chew on. Director Karyn Kusama brings to life Diablo Cody’s hilarious screenplay about a cheerleader with a taste for human flesh. Jennifer’s Body plays up teen archetypes with a satire drenched in morbidity. The film is as just hot as its starring lead Megan Fox, but is also hilarious, smart and most importantly, gory.
6. Holidays (2016)
Don’t be fooled, this anthological horror-comedy packs a mighty scary punch in its collection of eight short films. Holidays operates like a storybook; the film navigates the calendar year through various holidays, each setting the stage for some seriously demented retellings of our reality. Several holidays in the anthology follow female characters in dealings of murder, psychosis and demonic in-betweens. Holidays carries a dark, dark humor throughout and does so with prominent female POV’s.
7. Scream (1996)
Ah, yes. It wouldn’t be a horror recommendation list without my inclusion of Wes Craven’s beloved Scream. Released in 1996, Craven put forth this work as a response to the cookie-cutter formula of slasher films before it. Scream‘s female characters reclaim the damsel in distress narrative and turn it on its head. This iconic film opened up a dialogue for female horror characters that is fondly continued today.
8. Ava’s Possessions (2015)
This witty indie flick follows what happens after an exorcism. The brilliant premise explores a young woman’s life after her possession, in which she must deal with the ramifications of her satanic outbursts. Ava’s Possessions gains points for originality, but ultimately wins for its character-driven parallel to overcoming female addiction.
9. American Mary (2012)
Move over, Patrick Bateman– Mary Mason of American Mary gets paid for her work in butchery. Canadian filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska, otherwise known as the Soska sisters, created American Mary as a true-blue feminist piece. The directors are devout LGBT and gender equality supporters and wanted to put forth a film that reveled in both female empowerment and subculture– all under an ultra-violent lens, of course. American Mary chronicles the story of an underground female surgeon, whose victims are not always unwilling. Though she is totally tortuous in some sequences, Mary gracefully tackles rape, occupational gender bias and female sex work.
10. The Love Witch (2016)
The breathtaking visuals in The Love Witch are reason alone to watch this film. Created as a love-letter of sorts to 1960’s horror and classic cinematic camp, The Love Witch is a meticulous body of work that nearly mirrors the Technicolor aesthetic. Feminist writer and director Anna Biller uses the spellbinding vibe of the film to discuss gender contention with witchcraft as the vehicle. Groovy and vibrant, The Love Witch hauntingly discusses love, lust and roles of the sexes.
11. Silent House (2012)
You can’t get in much more female representation than a feature-length continuous shot of a female protagonist! Silent House is an emulated one-take look at a young woman who confronts the demons of her past. Silent House is an American remake of a Uruguayan film of the same premise. Female writer and co-director Laura Lau revamped the original story and created this limited point of view to convey a new perspective on childhood trauma. Elizabeth Olsen leads the film to a result that is tense, hazy and slightly incestuous.
12. The Descent (2005)
Claustrophobes beware– The Descent is enough to make anyone feel like they are suffocating. Released in 2005, The Descent tapped the market for the spelunking/cave horror genre– an accomplishment for an all-female cast. The under-worldly creatures and characters’ low air supply make The Descent something of nightmares. The film is still widely regarded as a top horror film of the decade, veering from classic horror conventions with a band of resilient women.
13. The Witch (2015)
I can best describe this slow-burner flick as The Scarlett Letter with satanic goats. A critical darling of 2015, The Witch is a venture in minimalist horror. Set in a confined colonial community, this film sees a Puritan family struggle with religious devotion, sin, temptation and a greater evil. Robert Eggers’ The Witch has been highly regarded for its staunch discussion of patriarchal religion and female sexuality; conceptualizing witchcraft as female sexual prowess. As these issues have prevailed in American culture for centuries, The Witch brings them to a roaring boil in this chilling, feminist masterpiece.
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Do you have a favorite feminist horror flick? Did I leave out any from this list? Leave me a comment!