As much as I love all horror with reckless abandon, women in the genre often fall into clear-cut tropes: the whore, the virgin, the Final Girl. However, we’re starting to see women slip into more sophisticated and complex horror roles. Do yourself a favor and add these films to your watch list, and be in awe of some of horror’s best badass women.
1. Green Room
While most horror films spark frustration towards characters’ dumb decisions, Green Room leaves you in awe of the characters’ thoughtfulness and resilience. Among a small cast, two of the main characters are mouthy, smart women, who strike fear in the hearts of neo-Nazis everywhere. I’m not sure what more you could want. I guess you could toss in some punk rock and call it a day.
2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
If you haven’t seen 10 Cloverfield Lane, you’re missing out on one of the best films of the year. Lightyears beyond the first Cloverfield, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance will blow you away, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat throughout this intense ride. I recommend watching with snacks to keep you from biting your nails.
3. The Witch
The Witch surprised me. Halfway through my first viewing , I wasn’t sure about it. But then the third act crushed my expectations, and I now have the blu-ray on a shiny pedestal. We were due for a good witch film—but I never dreamed we’d get this lucky.
4. You’re Next
It’s hard not to spoil a major plot-point of You’re Next while trying to explain how much I appreciate this film and the female lead. Suffice it to say, this film is not what it seems. It’s the horror film women deserve. Everyone should see it at least once.
5. Final Girls
While the other films on this list mean serious business, Final Girls hinges on horror meta-commentary and humorous self-awareness (as the title suggests). More than anything, this film celebrates female relationships and friendships (in between gory murders), a rare find in the horror genre. It’s a film apart.
There are lots of great women in horror—I avoided listing some of my very favorites because they fall into the Final Girl trope, but I fiercely love them nonetheless. What are some of your favorite horror films with compelling female characters?