10 Must Watch Feminist Horror Films
Written by Mia Pidlaoan
Edited by Emi Grant
With the much anticipated psychological thriller Don’t Worry, Darling available in movie theaters since late September, it seems like a perfect time to settle into the spookiest month of all: October. However, Olivia Wilde’s movie isn’t the only watch-worthy, thrilling film that focuses on the woman’s perspective. Here are ten movies that are must-sees for those seeking a strong female lead and a chilling thrill.
The Love Witch
The urge to watch this movie multiple times is strong – and every time, there’s always something new to notice about it. Elaine is a beautiful witch who uses love magic to lure unsuspecting men to their demise. However, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Who is the true villain of the story? Elaine? Or the patriarchal society that created her? In addition to its thought-provoking tale, the film purposely takes on a gorgeous velvet, vintage aesthetic that’s sure to please the sights of its viewers.
Writer/director Ari Aster serves audiences with another wonderfully made cult movie. It focuses on a couple, Dani and Christian, who take a trip to Sweden with Christian’s friends to partake in a summer festival after the tragic death of Dani’s sister and parents. The first thing to note is that the movie primarily takes place during the day, subverting from the dark night that horror movies usually utilize to strike fear into the hearts of its audiences. (SPOILER in the link provided!) Secondly, the movie subverts from the trope of female vulnerability in horror films by putting men in that role instead. The film is trippy, bright, and absolutely horrifying. Tldr; it leaves viewers absolutely floored by the end.
This movie is unsettling, attention-grabbing, and devastating. The Witch is about a 1630’s New England family who leaves their settlement to fend for themselves in the wilderness. Unbeknownst to them, they create a home near a witch’s forest, resulting in the destruction of their family. Anya Taylor-Joy stars in this movie as Thomasin, the daughter who is blamed for everything going wrong. Beautifully made and tragic, the movie leaves the viewer with a well-turned stomach. The end, however, is devilishly delicious.
Stop there and let me correct it, I want to watch a movie with some new perspective! Well, look no further than this cult classic. Jennifer, a high-school cheerleader, becomes possessed by a demon due to a band of devil-worshiping douchebags hoping to sacrifice a virgin to achieve fame. Truly, a tired trope. Jennifer exacts her revenge by killing them to retain her fantastic powers. However, her morally strong best friend, Needy, doesn’t find this acceptable in the slightest. In the end, it’s honest to say that justice is served. Horrific, funny, campy, and all-over entertaining, this is great for a movie night.
This movie is absolutely terrifying and I, personally, am scared of watching it again. If you’re looking for a truly horrific night, this is the movie to watch. Even William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist, said in a 2014 interview that this was the most terrifying film he’s ever seen. The Babadook is about a struggling mother and her son who find the manifestation of a children’s book monster appear in their home. In addition to being a truly scary film, the movie can be interpreted as a metaphor for depression and grief – which gives viewers more to think about as they peek between shaky fingers.
Last Night in Soho
Fans of Anya Taylor-Joy, rejoice! This is a gorgeously made film about a fashion student named Eloise. She starts dreaming about a 1960’s woman named Sandie who desires to become a famous singer. Eloise starts looking forward to her dreams, utilizing what she sees as inspiration for her designs, only for her nightly adventures to take a terrifying turn. Having grown close to Sandie, she begins to connect the dots in the present, determined to find justice for her. The movie has many twists and turns, and the end is sure to surprise. All over, it’s an enjoyable watch.
Seeing double? Your vision is perfect. Almost as perfect as Lupita Nyong’o as the female lead, who portrays her character(s) in such a way that keeps audiences captivated. Us is a horror film by Jordan Peele about a family who is attacked by their horrific doppelgangers while on vacation. As more about the doppelgangers is revealed, the story dives deep into the manipulative, deliberate experiment the government creates as well as how the past affects the present. It can also be interpreted as how humans can be ignored by their government, uncared for – and how with education, planning, and uprising, they can make a significant change. The film is meticulously made, a masterful creation of suspense.
It’s best to go into this movie as blind as possible, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. After being discouraged by the online dating scene, Noa ends up meeting Steve at a grocery store. They have a meet-cute, they go on a couple dates, and he takes her out for a little getaway. Then... things get interesting. Noa is a strong female character; she’s tough, smart, and has some great dance moves. And she seems to do almost everything right, it’s a wonder how things end up the way they do. It’s a stomach churning, teeth grinding ride, and the end is absolutely fantastic.
Alien is a classic movie that stars Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, the warrant officer aboard the ship Nostromo that is invaded by a dangerous – you guessed it – alien. The movie does follow the typical horror-movie trope, the final girl being SPOILER (but it’s a 70’s movie so *shrug*) Ripley. Still, it’s an enjoyable movie! With strong characters with differing personalities and Ripley being a resilient, smart character with a lot of grit, it’s definitely one to check out.
I’m a sucker for gothic, romantic vampire movies, aren’t you? #Booktok was ALL over this one, many screaming for an alternate ending. However, I personally think that the ending was perfect. Evie, having lost her mother, ends up doing a DNA test through a work perk to determine if she has any other family. Her distant cousin, through the DNA test, ends up contacting her and inviting her over to a family wedding overseas. At the lavish mansion she ends up staying at, she ends up being courted by the handsome owner of the estate... and things get bloody. A fun take on Dracula and his wives, The Invitation is a fantastic, modern, feminist take on the story; it shows just how much power a smart, headstrong human woman has, even over hundreds of years of tradition.
There are a plethora of movies that haven’t been added to this list, so checking out what feminist flicks are available through your preferred search engine is recommended. However, it would be a fantastic choice to go through these picks first, considering it’s been watched and enjoyed by yours truly. Horror movies can get tired with the same, sexist tropes again and again, and audiences owe it to themselves for a nice palette cleanser. Instead of playing the same trick over and over, why not divulge in a treat? ;)