Are you wondering where to start in your quest to add some films driven by women to your movie watching portfolio? Rest easy, as there are lots available on streaming services right now! Check these out to start, and then look for more from some of these amazing female directors.
And don’t worry – there are plenty more that I’ll be discussing this month and beyond! Enjoy!
The Invitation, Karyn Kusama, Netflix
Perhaps best known to horror fans for her work on Jennifer’s Body, which has all the makings of a cult classic in the next decade, Karyn Kusama really shows what she can do with the absolutely brilliant The Invitation. A man and several mutual friends are invited to his ex-wife’s home for a dinner party. It’s all downhill from there. It’s best not to know anything about this movie going in, and just let the craziness unfold. While Jennifer’s Body may be considered the more traditional horror film, The Invitation is a masterpiece of continually building tension. By the time you reach the end of the film, you are so keyed up that you will find it hard to sleep. Crazy intense and a brutal examination of grief, Karyn Kusama is one to watch.
Revenge, Coralie Fargeat, Shudder
The rape-revenge subgenre of horror is one that has always stirred up a lot of controversy. Some call it an honest portrayal of what assault victims endure, while others call them out for being misogynistic, and an excuse to show graphic assault scenes under the guise of art. Many argue that there is a fine line between these films and a snuff film, while others argue that they are empowering. What Revenge does is a completely fresh take on the genre, taking it completely out of its comfort zone. Rather than a solid revenge film, this one blurs the line between revenge and flat-out survival, as our heroine is left for dead in the desert. What this film also does amazingly well is call out the other men. The man who assaulted her is scum for sure, but the others who let it happen, ignore it happening, and then help to silence her are just as big a part of the problem. This film is a blend of revenge, Mad Max, and social justice solidly told through a female voice.
The Babadook, Jennifer Kent, Netflix
If anyone had any doubt that single parenthood is hard, it is completely obliterated by this movie. An intense look at grief, moving on, and just how hard it is to raise a child, this is a powerful movie that will keep you checking the dark corners at night. As a widow is driven to the edge by her son, who, shall we say, marches to the beat of his own drummer. He is a nightmare, in fact. One night, they read a story together about a monster called the Babadook. Reading the book seems to unleash the beast, and as he gets closer and closer she fights to keep her grip on reality and protect her son in the process.
Honeymoon, Leigh Janiak, Shudder
This is a horror movie that will make you re-think every future excursion into the woods for the next thirty years or so. What is supposed to be a quiet, romantic honeymoon turns into a nightmare for a young couple. A newlywed husband wakes up in the middle of the night and finds that his wife is gone. Wandering outside, he finds her standing in the woods, disoriented and unsure of how she got there. As the days go on, she acts progressively stranger as her transformation begins. Featuring amazing performances from the Harry Treadaway and Rose Leslie, this one will be sure to please fans of Spring.
Dearest Sister, Mattie Do, Shudder
While this is more of a supernatural thriller than a traditional horror, this one really should be added to anyone’s Women in Horror Month list. Mattie Do has the distinction of being not only the first female director from Laos, but is also the first Laotian director to make a horror movie. The story follows Nok, who is sent from her small village to help her cousin, Ana, who is slowly going blind. When she gets there, she quickly discovers that Ana has visions of the dead, and in a trance will recite numbers. Nok soon discovers that they are the winning lottery numbers, and Ana has no recollection of them whatsoever. What starts as a simple con quickly spirals out of control, and leads to an ending that packs a punch. A unique view of the role of women, class, and family in Laos, I’m looking forward to more from Mattie Do.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Ana Lily Amirpour, Shudder
I will admit that I have yet to see this one, which is absolutely crazy. So, if you follow this list, I’ll be watching for the first time with you! This black and white film focuses on a town that is being targeted by a vampire who has become lonely over the years. Blending elements of horror and western, this Iranian film has become known for not only its fresh take on vampires, but also its artful aesthetic and blending of genres. I’m looking forward to it!
Stay tuned this month as I discuss even more great female directors!