Women in Horror Recognition Month: Films to See

February is Women in Horror Recognition month. I like horror. A lot. As many of you know, I’m currently in post production on a short horror film I wrote and directed called Small Talk. I hear the same old bs all the time about how women don’t like horror, or don’t like gory horror, or only like horror for the excuse to snuggle into the arms of our boyfriends or what the anachronistic fuck ever. It’s 2013 and people still say this. I read that the majority of the audience who showed up for the recent Texas Chainsaw reboot were women, but such facts don’t seem to register among all the “common sense” in countless magazine articles and blog posts I will refrain from linking.

I know of course that while there are tons of women horror fans, women are way under represented when it comes to writing and directing films (at least those that get distribution and seen). I didn’t realize quite how especially dire the situation was until I tried to brainstorm scary movies I’d seen that were directed by women. The list I came up with is depressingly short, and I will share it with you in a future post, but for this one I decided to do something different: come up with a list of horror films directed by women that I’d like to see.

The selections below run the gamut from intentionally campy to likely seriously disturbing, relatively “mild violence” to gorehound candy, art house to mall-grade sequel cash-in. If you’re like me and have been missing women’s voices in your horror, maybe you’ll find something here to rectify this absence.

1. Trouble Every Day (Dir. Claire Denis)
A Salon review promises “lurid spectacles that would challenge the imagination of Herschell Gordon Lewis or H.P. Lovecraft”, and everything I’ve read makes it this sound right up my ally. Some of the stills I’ve seen are pretty gorgeous.

Trouble Every Day

2. The Commune (Dir. Elizabeth Fies)
This coming-of-age-in-a-cult horror film sounds promising and is getting good word of mouth. It’s streaming on Netflix, so I’ll definitely be checking it out.

3. The Field Trip (Dir. Tiffany D. Jackson)
I saw this film come up a few times while googling about women in horror. I’m not usually a big fan of found footage horror (thought Blair Witch was just boring) but have heard some good things about this from the blogosphere. Also, director Tiffany D. Jackson has made it available on YouTube, and it’s a short, so why not check it out? To keep this blog post concept in line, I have not watched it yet, but will after this goes live. Here is the movie:

4. The Moth Diaries (Dir. Mary Harron)
This boarding school vampire flick didn’t get the best reviews, but I’ve loved every movie of Mary Harron’s so far. American Psycho is one of my favorite films of all time. So I’m more than ready to give this the benefit of the doubt, for now. Besides, it looks fun.

5. Blood and Donuts (Dir. Holly Dale)
For the name alone, but then David Cronenberg is in it also!

6. Office Killer
(Dir. Cindy Sherman)
I’ve been curious about this since it came out, and it’s been sitting on my Netflix queue for awhile. This shall spur me to actually watch it. I remember it getting lukewarm-at-best reviews, but who knows? I’m intrigued by the idea of Cindy Sherman directing other people in a full length genre film, however successful or not the film ultimately proves itself.

Office Killer DVD art

7. Near Dark (Dir. Katherine Bigelow)
It’s so stupid that I’ve never seen Katherine Bigelow’s vampire movie. WTF.

8. The Rage: Carrie 2 (Dir. Katt Shea)
I’ve heard it’s not so bad. ’90s teen movie Carrie sequel–even if it’s awful, it’s a collision of enough things I like to make me want to see it. I meant to see it back in the ’90s, for god’s sake. Might as well do it now. It looks pretty fun. Katt Shea has a bunch of other scary movies under her directorial belt as well.

As an aside, I am thoroughly looking forward to Kimberly Pierce’s (Boys Don’t Cry) remake of Carrie starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore. It’s coming out in October. I’m as fond of the DePalma film as anyone, but this is no sacrilege.

9. American Mary (Dir. Jen and Sylvia Soska)
I’ve been hearing really good things about this movie from the festival circuit–that it has amazing f/x makeup, great acting, a story that is actually thought provoking…really, really hoping this comes to Netflix STAT. LOL! That was an accidentally appropriate turn of phrase as the film follows a med student through her debt and disillusionment into the world of extreme underground surgeries. Writer/director team Sylvia and Jen Soska also serve on the Women in Horror Recognition month board
American Mary Trailer

10. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (Dir. Rachel Talalay)
Just about the only film I haven’t seen in one of my preferred horror sequelfests. Directed by Rachel Talalay, who later brought us a killer soundtrack and Ice-T as a kangaroo in the Tank Girl movie adaptation.

Freddy’s Dead teaser one sheet

Idk if it’s the best, and I know it definitely wasn’t the last, but if I actually sat through Freddy Vs. Jason, and that Freddy baby one, I have time for this.

Well, those are my picks for films to check out. Next I will share my thoughts on some horror movies by women that I have actually seen, so keep an eye out for that. I’ll spare you the bloody jpg I’d really like to include now, because maybe not all of you are into that. I tried to keep the in-post images mutilation-free, for all the splattered blood. Happy Women in Horror month! Support women in horror! xoxo


About Nicole Witte

I write and make movies.
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4 Responses to Women in Horror Recognition Month: Films to See

  1. As you know, I am one of the women who is not into horror. (Though recent turns watching the BBC series Luther has made me wonder if I might have a higher tolerance for it than I think I do?) Anyway, I am writing in response to your point at the beginning about the dearth of women directing horror. I have no doubt that this is true, but it also strikes me that film directing (and cinematography perhaps even moreso) is, these days, one of the most male-dominated fields there is. Horror films may have a worse record than films overall, but maybe not that much worse.

    • Nicole Witte says:

      You’re definitely right. I think I went into this in the original intro to this post, which wordpress somehow ate (it was my own fault, long boring story). I don’t know how to quickly make a quantitative judgement on how much worse it is in horror than film in general, but my anecdata suggests that it’s markedly worse, though likely action and other “male” genres have a similar problems. I mean, when you see my next post and how I, a horror fan, had to scrounge so hard to find any horror films I’ve seen directed by women…it’s ridiculous. I could only come up with 5, some were a stretch, and not all were even anything I’d recommend.

      A lot of people (including, very disappointingly, women) disparage horror, and often the “it’s for boys” thing plays into it as some kind of pseudo-feminist critique. Like, the genre is trash and should die and appeals to people’s worst impulses BY DEFINITION (including sexism). Sometimes an exception will get made for Alien/s, but those films can conveniently be re-defined as sci-fi. As I touch on in the next post, the box office failure of Jennifer’s Body was often written about as proving that horror is for dudes, while no one wants to see women-centric (meaning, I guess, horror movies written and directed by women, as female protagonists are nothing new).

    • Nicole Witte says:

      The whole thing is so weird given how balanced my crew is genderwise. One of my producers is a guy and the other is a woman, my DP and gaffer are both women, though both my camera assistants were dudes, I had 2 ADs, one a guy and the other a girl, etc. I didn’t plan it that way, that’s just how it came together based on who I know who I wanted to work with. I usually look at crew credits on films and am always saddened when the non-art dept categories are almost always sooooo male dominated. I mean, I know so many people who are not dudes who do that stuff. The issue is waaay bigger than horror. I think it just gets, like, super compounded within horror.

      • Yeah – I find it really shocking how male-dominated the film industry continues to be. I think as movie-goers, we often don’t experience it as male-dominated because we are focused on the movies themselves, which often ends up being just the actors, but when you start to look at crews it’s striking.

        Also, I forgot to mention I am 98% sure I have seen Office Killer, but I can’t remember a thing about it. I used to be really into Cindy Sherman and remember being really excited that she made a movie.

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