Women and their bodies have always been integral to horror. Ideas around women’s survival, femininity, and capability have been established as tropes in horror by male directors, in both productive and reductive ways. Since being a woman in the world is to experience horror regularly, the Women Make Horror section highlights women filmmakers so we see the impact made when they are the ones in charge of telling their own stories. These films explore and explode notions of the “final girl,” motherhood, sexuality, trauma, and gender discrimination through innovative means, creating a new and exciting language in horror cinema.
This section of Horror: Messaging the Monstrous is titled after Alison Peirse’s eponymous 2020 book, and has a particular focus on films made since 2014, the year that saw the releases of two landmark horror films: The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. From this point there was a remarkable shift in genre work by women, in which we find explorations of PTSD in films like Violation, Knives and Skin, and Censor, horror associated with motherhood in Prevenge, You Are Not My Mother, and Amulet, along with explorations of contagious ideas in She Dies Tomorrow. We also revisit earlier landmarks like Karen Arthur’s essential 1978 film The Mafu Cage and Karyn Kusama’s criminally overlooked Jennifer’s Body.
Be sure to see the other post-2014 films directed by women featured in other sections of this series, like Tigers Are Not Afraid, Relic, Master, Good Madam, and Raw.
Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Curator, and Brittany Shaw, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, with Caryn Coleman, guest curator.