There have been some fantastic horror films directed by women over the years, and here are some of the best–and scaries
Halloween may only come once a year but horror movies are forever–and we’re always trying to curate new and better lists to help you make your terrifying viewing experiences that much more intense. So, rather than zero in on a specific sub-genre or style of movie this time around, we’re turning our gaze to the people behind the cameras. Here are 18 spine-chilling horror movies directed by women.
From brand new features like Nia DaCosta’s Candyman reboot to vintage cult classics you may have missed entirely like Barbara Peeters’ Humanoids of The Deep, women have been turning out some of the best and most memorable spooky movies of the last several decades. There’s truly something here for everyone, whether you’re looking for frontier cannibals or psychological monsters–or maybe a little bit of both (and everything in between) with an anthology series.
Maybe you’ll even recognize some favorites on this list you never knew belonged here! Take a look, and let us know your favorite women behind the camera in horror in the comments below. And when you’re done here, be sure to check out our favorite woodland horror movies and our favorite monster movies.
Not to be confused with the 2017 movie of the same name, 1999’s Ravenous was directed by Antonia Bird and starred Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle as 1800s frontiersmen during the Mexican-American war. With the ominous (and on the nose) tagline of “you are who you eat,” it’s not exactly difficult to guess what this movie is about. What is surprising, however, is just how funny and charming it is along the way–pitch black humor, scathing satire, and pitch perfect performances make it one to remember.
2. Candyman (2021)
A direct sequel to the 1992 movie of the same name, Candyman (2021) was directed by Nia DaCosta and brought the man himself, Tony Todd–who played the original Candyman–back to the big screen.
3. American Psycho
Written and directed by Mary Harron, American Psycho now stands as a classic in both the horror and the thriller genres–for good reason. Based on the novel of the same name, the movie stars a young Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, a serial killer who, among other things, just can’t get enough of Huey Lewis and the News.
4. Jennifer’s Body
While Jennifer’s Body may have critically bombed when it was first released back in 2009, it has since been regarded as a vastly underrated gem and cult classic. Directed by Karyn Kusama, it tells the story of a high school girl possessed by a demon in a botched sacrifice. Hell really is a teenage girl.
5. The Invitation
When it comes to uncomfortable dinner parties, it’s hard to think of one worse than that in The Invitation. Karyn Kusama’s tense, blackly funny horror thriller has a simple set-up–a group of old friends reconvene for an evening of food, drink, and conversation after many years. But it’s clear early on that something is very wrong, and in particular with the host’s new husband and his creepy friend (superbly played by Zodiac’s John Carroll Lynch). Kusama brilliantly balances the tension and dark humor, building to a gripping conclusion and knock-out final twist.
6. Goodnight Mommy
There are few things creepier in horror than weird kids, and the nightmarish Belgian movie Goodnight Mommy has two of ’em. Twins Elias and Lukas spend their days playing in and around a huge, isolated house, trying to avoid their strict, domineering mother, who is recovering from plastic surgery. But the pair become convinced that this woman is not, in fact, their mom. Veronika Franz directs alongside her filmmaking partner Severin Fiala, with a precise, controlled style that helps create a deep sense of unease and ambiguity.
French filmmaker Julia Ducournau’s latest movie, the bizarre, award-winning body horror Titane, is currently playing in theaters, so it’s a great time to revisit her debut film. Raw is an affecting, dream-like story of a veterinary student who must deal with both her new life at vet school and an emerging taste for human flesh. Ducournau crafts a movie that is both emotionally fraught and, at times, unwatchably gruesome.
8. Humanoids from the Deep
Barbara Peeters was one of the few women to emerge from Roger Corman’s exploitation factory in the ’60s and ’70s, and her best known film is this 1978 shlockfest about murderous mutated fishmen terrorizing a small coastal town. Unfortunately, Peeters disowned the film after Corman inserted extra rape scenes into the movie after she completed her cut. But while those sequences are distasteful and unnecessary, the rest of the movie is a well made, well acted, and highly entertaining slice of gory B-movie fun.
9. Tigers Are Not Afraid
Issa López’s debut film focuses on a group of orphaned children in Mexico City who are trying to survive amidst a brutal drug war, and who can also see the ghosts of the dead around them. Tigers Are Not Afraid is a beautifully-made chiller that mixes supernatural thrills and real-world horrors, and López draws some fantastic performances from her young cast.
The anthology horror XX features the work of no fewer than five talented female directors. Sofia Carrillo provides the super creepy stop-motion wraparound segments, while Jovanka Vuckovic, Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, and Annie Clark (aka musician St Vincent) direct the main stories. They are darkly funny tales of a birthday party gone horribly wrong, a desert camping trip that takes a demonic turn, a mom who discovers her 18-year-old son isn’t who he seems to be, and a mysterious box that has tragic consequences for a family when they look inside.
11. Slumber Party Massacre II
During an era of slasher horror films being everywhere, Slumber Party Massacre 2 came into existence. The 1987 film was Deborah Navarra-Brock’s first feature film she wrote and directed and it follows the younger sister of the woman terrorized by the Driller Killer in the first movie. The sister is in a rock band and heads to a vacation house with her band where they jam out. However, the Driller Killer is back, but this time, he’s a rockabilly guitar player whose drill is at the end of his guitar. The film mixes horror, comedy, and musical numbers incredibly well, and it is easily the best movie out of the original franchise.
12. American Mary
Looking for some body horror? Give Jen and Sylvia Soska’s American Mary a go. It focuses on a medical student who decides to try her hand at extreme body modification to help get herself out of debt, which, as you might imagine, doesn’t exactly go as planned.
13. Carrie (2013)
Arguably one of the most iconic women in horror, Carrie, from the Stephen King novel of the same name, is probably most well known from her 1976 big screen debut. But the movie was remade in 2013 by Kimberly Peirce and did a fantastic job modernizing the classic.
14. The Babadook
Little kids are scary but little kids who summon horrible monsters from creepy picture books are scarier. Jennifer Kent directed this 2014 psychological thriller that subsequently became something of a social media meme–but don’t let that fool you, it’s still sure to absolutely terrify you.
15. The Fear Street Trilogy
A recent addition to Netflix, Leigh Janiak’s trilogy (based on the novels of the same name) hopscotched through decades to serve up a buffet of horror tropes. Everything from ’90s slashers to ’80s camp horror and even some more modern ’00s-flavored folk horror vibes got jam packed into the series, all of which are now streaming.
16. Saint Maud
British director Rose Glass made a stunning debut with this disturbing psychological chiller. A hospice nurse named Maud becomes obsessed with a former dancer she is caring for and sets about trying to save her soul. Glass strikes a careful balance between gritty realism and more ambiguous body horror, making for a movie that’s not easily forgotten.
17. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
The world’s first Iranian vampire western is a hypnotic, stylish black-and-white debut from director Ana Lily Amirpour. A lonely, unnamed vampire girl stalks the alleyways of the fictional Bad City, looking for human prey. But when she meets a nice young man with similar tastes in indie rock, she starts to question her scary nocturnal activities.
18. The Love Witch
The Love Witch is a funny, beautifully-made homage to ’50s melodrama and ’60s horror as well as a clever satire about gender and sexuality. Samantha Robinson is magnetic as Elaine, a modern-day witch who comes to a small Californian town to find true love. Needless to say, the search doesn’t go well, and the bodies start to pile up. The film is a true labour of love for director Anna Biller, who also wrote, produced, scored, and edited it.
Source: Game Spot Mashup