Every year when award season approaches, we have the same discussion: is it that there aren't enough women working in the movie industry or that they don’t have spaces to tell their stories? This question is key to understanding the incredibly unequal reality of the industry. When you think about it, men dominate every single field. And if you think about the horror genre, in particular, men are the ones who come to mind. I mean, there's Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, George Romero, Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, Dario Argento, and the list goes on and on. However (newsflash), men are not the only ones who can make good horror movies. In fact, every day there are more films directed by women that are just as good and sometimes better than the male classics. If you don’t believe me, I dare you to watch these:
XX (2017) Dir. Annie Clark, Karyn Kusama, Jovanka Vuckovic, and Roxanne Benjami
If you’re in the mood for a small dose of horror, this film is just what the doctor ordered, with four different short films, all written and directed by women (including the famous musician St. Vincent). From a bloody birthday party to a mysterious box with dangerous consequences, these stories are that perfect mix between a deep narrative and a horror element that'll give you more than a few sleepless nights.
Boxing Helena (1993) Dir. Jennifer Chambers Lynch
This movie by the daughter of David Lynch proves that horror runs in her blood, just like filmmaking talent. Her debut film tells the story of a surgeon with a secret box. He is obsessed with a woman, and when she has an accident, he sees it as his chance to finally have her. His obsession and determination to have her leads him to mutilate her and keep her body. This is a strange blend of horror, eroticism, fantasy, and drama.
Jennifer’s Body (2009) Dir. Karyn Kusama
Boxing Helena can be a little too much, so if you want to cleanse your palate, this movie will do the job. Written by Diablo Cody, it shows what happens when the hottest and most popular girl at school becomes a demonic succubus who wants to kill everyone who tries to hit on her. It might sound a bit cheesy, but it’s actually really fun to watch.
The Babadook (2014) Dir. Jennifer Kent
What happens when the scary character of a children’s book decides to pay a visit? The Babadook happens. A mother and her son are tormented by the monster in a book. Is it their imagination or is it possible that this eerie character actually exists and has come to get them? A really scary and kind of difficult to watch film that will make you want to leave the lights on at all times.
Organ (1996) Dir. Kei Fujiwara
If you’re looking for something terrifying in that is more grounded on reality, this is it, though it's not recommended for the faint of heart. A high school biology professor at a girls’ school has a disturbing and gory side job: luring victims and removing their organs to sell them in the black market. It’s quite graphic and pretty sinister, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
American Mary (2012) Dir. Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska
Looking for extra income to pay for medical school, a young woman starts her own business by operating on clients who want complex, and most of the time illegal, extreme body modifications. As the business grows, so do the complexity and danger of the surgeries, to the point that it ends up putting her own life at risk.
Pet Sematary (1989) Dir. Mary Lambert
A haunted pet cemetery with the power to bring back to life anything buried in it, a father grieving the loss of his son, and the terrible consequences of his demonic actions are the basis of this classic film. Based on Stephen King’s novel, it has all the ominous traits we love from the master of horror. It's definitely a must for any serious film buff.
These movies all have something in common: a different focus and perspective capable of tackling horror and suspense from an unusual angle. Watch these if you’re ready to experience fear at a totally different level.
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