It’s that dreadful time of the year again, Spooktober. It is time to lock your doors, dim your lights, and turn on a scary movie. The month of October is now the unholy month where we subject ourselves to all sorts of terrifying films and TV. Of course, the horror genre is broad not everything is meant to scare us. Some may like to tune into the adventures of our beloved macabre family in The Addams Family or go down memory lane with Halloween classics like: The Witches, Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown. Others enjoy having their senses assaulted by visceral and brutal horror flicks like: Saw, Hostel, Evil Dead, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, no Spooktober is complete without a mandatory viewing of one of Stephen King’s many classics. Whatever you fancy, maybe you will find some new gems in this list of horror films directed by women.
Without further ado, here is a list of 13 films that cover the broad spectrum of the horror genre, all directed by women, that you can stream right now!
Bad dreams, darlings.
1. The Invitation (2015)
You are cordially invited to Karyn Kusama’s dinner party from hell, The Invitation. Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is invited to attend a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband, David (Michiel Huisman). Will believes that there are some nefarious intentions behind the invitation and is suspicious of the handsome, but mysterious new husband. As Will becomes increasingly paranoid Kusama’s tense suspense-horror never holds back on the tension and anticipation of what’s to happen next.
2. The Babadook (2014)
Children often find comfort and solace in storybooks and imaginary friends, but Jennifer Kent’s The Babdook will show you a darker side to the imagination. Picture your imaginary friend for a moment – now, what do you do when they become the boogeyman that will not let go? Kent’s horror sensation is an allegory for the ever-present and persistent power of grief, which will certainly give nightmares. The most frightening horrors are ones we recognize in our daily lives and manifest in ways that scare us to our core.
3. Revenge (2016)
Revenge isn’t your typical horror film, but it earns a spot on this list as its subject matter is as horrifying as any monster or supernatural entity. Violence against women is a horror that is a constant in many women’s lives, and Coralie Fargeat takes the common tropes of the rape-revenge story and creates both a horrifying, and cathartic experience. Revenge is terrifying to watch, but ultimately greatly satisfying for every person who has ever felt helpless and weak. Revenge depicts a bloody and intense cat-and-mouse game between a woman scorned and three foolish men. Like the great Broadway song “Cell Block Tango” says, “They had it coming!”
4. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
“Iranian vampire spaghetti Western” is a string of words that I never expected to see, but it perfectly captures the essences of Ana Lily Amirpour’s 2014 critically acclaimed, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Similarly to Revenge, this is yet another flick where the central female character unleashes her hellish fury on the men who’ve wronged her. Cloaked in a chador that blends with the night the titular Girl stalks the streets of an imaginary Iranian town to seek out the most depraved and make them pay. The Girl becomes one of the most iconic vampires in cinematic history.
5. The Love Witch (2016)
The Love Witch was released in 2016, but while watching it you will certainly believe this was made in the 1960’s. This gorgeously shot retro-horror flick will have you feeling nostalgic of for the cinema of the 60’s and wildly impressed by Anna Biller’s tremendous attention to detail. The Love Witch follows a young witch, Elaine, who is beautiful and dazzling, and slightly obsessed with love. Just as Elaine enchants the men in her life, The Love Witch will have you surrender to its spell.
6. Silent House (2011)
Laura Lau co-directed Silent House with Chris Kentis. The two created an impressive horror experience by using real-time footage and making the film appear to as a single continuous shot. The real-time footage, matched with the single continuous shot made this remake of a Uruguayan film of the same name a terrifying experience. Elizabeth Olsen’s performance becomes increasingly impressive as we follow her character live through a traumatizing experience. Lau and Kentis do so much to have the audience experience every excruciating second with Olsen.
7. Honeymoon (2014)
Leigh Janiak’s feature debut Honeymoon is an intense, atmospheric, chilling sci-fi horror. It is one of those horror films that is driven by the characters; they aren’t just archetypes that are there to just die. The true terror of Honeymoon comes from the recognizable people who the audience can sympathize with. Janiak’s film is difficult to discuss without spoiling, but it is a horror film that is about some of the complexities of life and will scare the heck out of you.
8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
We all know and love the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show led by Michelle Geller. But, did you know that it was a film first? The show and the film are drastically different. The 1992 film was a fun callback to 80’s cult classics like Teen Wolf and Teen Witch, but with vampires. Fran Rubel Kuzui’s film is a fun teen comedy with a bit of supernatural fun thrown in. Less serious as it’s successor, but is a still a great time. Also, young Luke Perry is a must see.
9. Soulmate (2013)
Soulmate is a supernatural horror that tells the story of a young widow who moves into a secluded cottage to recuperate from an attempted suicide. She soon discovers the house is haunted. The question becomes: is this entity a kindred spirit or a sinister one? Soulmate depicts a harrowing experience and the horror is driven by our desire to see the young widow survive this ordeal.
10. Pet Sematary (1989)
No list of horror films is complete without a Stephen King contribution. The literary master of horror has gifted the world with dozens of books to adapt for film and TV. One of those adaptions is Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary, which may be the only Stephen King adaptation to be directed by a woman (not including the 2013 Carrie remake, directed by Kimberly Pierce). Lambert also helmed the sequel, Pet Sematary Two. Pet Sematary follows the Creed family after they move from Chicago to rural Maine. They befriend an elderly neighbour who shows them an isolated pet cemetery (which also happens to be nearby a Micmac burial ground) in the forest. If you are at all familiar with the movie, you will know that the moral of the story is move far-far-far away from any place that has a creepy pet cemetery.
11. Vamps (2012)
Amy Heckerling’s Vamps is a light-hearted comedy-horror that features vampires as our protagonists. Pre-Jessica Jones Krysten Ritter is a delight to watch as a young vampiress who happens to fall in love with a descendant of Van Helsing. It’s a cutesy film that plays with vampire conventions and takes a realistic approach to depicting vampires in the modern world. You might be thinking, but What We Do In The Shadows did that, why should I watch this? Yes, it does, but I would argue that Heckerling’s film is just as good as Taika Waititi’s hit indie and was unfairly dismissed. I would recommend a double feature with Vamps and What We Do In The Shadows.
12. American Mary (2012)
Canadian filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska directed one of the most disturbing revenge horror films in recent memory. The setup is nothing new – Mary, a struggling medical student with a bright future, is drugged and raped at a party. The perpetrator is her professor, which sends her spiralling. She quits medical school and is strapped for cash. Mary and her talents find their way to the underworld of body modification. Extreme body modification that will certainly have you rethinking plastic surgery for quite some time. This film is not for the faint of heart.
13. Berlin Syndrome (2017)
Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome, is another horror film that traditionally wouldn’t be considered a horror. However, like a few of my previous picks, the situation depicted is just as horrifying as an evil supernatural entity. Here, we have a young Australian woman, Clare (Teresa Palmer) who is vacationing in Germany. She meets a cute and dashing young man, Andi (Max Riemelt), who becomes her lover for a night. However, things go horribly wrong when he reveals his true intentions. Teresa Palmer’s performance is a big reason as to why I added Berlin Syndrome to this list. She brilliantly conveys the emotions of a woman under extreme duress. The situation is one many are warned of when travelling abroad, and Shortland expertly explores this real-world horror.
Check out more great horror films readily to stream here.