Girls on Film: 4 female filmmakers who pioneered horror movies

Despite popular misconceptions, women have been on the cutting edge of the genre since its earliest days

Girls Horror

If you’re looking for a good new horror movie, there are plenty of directors whose works fit the bill. Leigh Janiak kicked things off last month with a limited release of her film Honeymoon. “Twisted Twins” Jen and Sylvia Soska debuted their latest feature, See No Evil 2, on DVD last week. Sundance selection A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night — cinema’s “first Iranian vampire western,” directed by Ana Lily Amirpour — is hitting theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Nov. 21. Jennifer Kent’s critical smash The Babadook, which won Best Actor, Actress, Screenplay, and Feature at the festival, will hit screens on Nov. 28.

These female-directed films have been framed as work that challenges the “status quo.” But it’s misguided to frame women’s contributions to horror as something unusual. It ignores the fact that most of these women have made horror films before, and that they are just the latest generation working in a genre that has always included influential women.

Indeed, one of cinema’s most rampant fallacies is the idea that women and horror don’t mix.

Movies like Twilight have led critics to note the power of YA fandom — but not how much it has continued a long tradition of girls’ interests in horror. Before Stephenie Meyer, there was L.J. Smith, and before her, Lois Duncan. YA offers bridges to women like Anne Rice, one of the most iconic names in horror lit, and V.C. Andrews, whose Flowers in the Attic was so popular that a ghostwriter was hired to continue her legacy after her death.

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