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10 Great Horror Movies By Women

Hang up a “No Boys Allowed” sign on the clubhouse door and let’s get to watchin’.
Female Directors
By  · Published on October 10th, 2019

5. American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho

It’s almost too easy to call a film unique, but there are truly no other movies out there like American Psycho. From the moment Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale, really doing the most) started dispassionately describing his workout and skincare routine, we knew Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial book was going to be unforgettable. How do I love this deeply weird capitalist satire? Let me count the ways. There’s Bale, in a blood-resistant raincoat, dancing to Huey Lewis & the News’ “Hip to Be Square” before plunging an ax into Jared Leto’s character’s skull. There’s the personalized business card dick-measuring contest. There’s the dizzying, hilarious climax, during which reality becomes unglued and an ATM tells Bateman to feed it a stray cat and he’s like, ‘Yeah, okay,’ and tries to push a kitten in the general direction of the card slot. Perhaps best of all, there’s the fact that notorious misogynist Ellis, who once said that filmmaking “requires a male gaze,” had his greatest work adapted by a talented woman. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

4. Revenge (2017)


For anyone who’s ever felt a little weird about dude-helmed rape-revenge films, rejoice: Revenge exists and it’s glorious.  Written and directed by French first-timer Coralie Fargeat, Revenge brings a modern sensibility to a well-worn grindhouse framework. Fargeat doesn’t pull punches and neither does Jen (Matilda Lutz), a left-for dead casualty of her boyfriend being the absolute fucking worst. Fargeat delivers a gnarly exploitation film that never feels like it’s exploiting its heroine. The line between vengeance and survival remains thoroughly blurred, and the result is a lucid bloodbath with a strong stomach and an uncompromising feminist bent. It’s a visceral picture that puts its predecessors to shame, and we can’t wait to see what else Fargeat has in store. (Meg Shields)

3. Near Dark (1987)

Neardark S C

Vampires have been a staple of horror for as long as the genre has existed. Even dating back to the olden times of the late ’80s vampires had undergone numerous takes on film in an effort to spice them up a bit. While the wide variety offers plenty of great options, it’s safe to say no take has been cooler than Kathryn Bigelow’s neo-western about a group of traveling vampires that drift through the desert, getting into bloody, vampy shenanigans along the way. It’s a beautiful, bloody film that expertly intertwines vampires and bikers into one perfectly executed western. It’s also the movie that gives us a “finger-lickin’ good” performance from the late great Bill Paxton as the super sexy Severen. How do you top that? (Chris Coffel)

2. The Invitation (2015)


They say women are far more in touch with their emotional side than men, and while we should all agree that’s a generalization it remains a fairly accurate one. It’s no surprise then that the intense emotional horrors at the heart of The Invitation (2015) come to us courtesy of the extremely talented Karyn Kusama. It’s a film about processing grief, both feeling it and allowing yourself the option to express it, and she captures well the pain that comes with that struggle. Of course, she also captures the more visceral terrors with equal skill delivering a third-act as frightening as it is haunting. (Rob Hunter)

1. Ravenous (1999)


Antonia Bird’s Ravenous is an underseen gem of a movie. Drawing inspiration from the real-life cannibalistic exploits of Alfred Packer and the Donner Party, with some Native American mythology sprinkled in for good measure, the story follows a cowardly soldier (Guy Pearce) who gets pitted in a battle of wits against a flesh-eating frontiersman (Robert Carlyle). What ensues is a meaty dark comedy about people with a taste for human meat and a propensity for killing as they struggle to survive in a fort. The less given away about Ravenous, the better, but it’s one of those rare scrumptious treats that every film fan should experience at least once. (Kieran Fisher)

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Anna Swanson is a Senior Contributor who hails from Toronto. She can usually be found at the nearest rep screening of a Brian De Palma film.