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10 Killer Female-Led Flicks to Binge this Halloween

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northwestern chapter.

From suburban slashers to Swedish summer scares, women truly dominate the horror genre. Whether they are throwback classics or modern masterpieces, these 10 films are filled with perfectly-acted performances from some of Hollywood’s best “scream queens.” Without further ado, here are some of my favorite female horror roles, perfect for getting in the Halloween spirit (and possible last-minute costume inspiration)! 

Jennifer’s Body

Hell is a teenage girl. Directed by Diablo Cody, this cult-classic follows cheerleader Jennifer Check, played by Megan Fox, as she navigates the aftermath of being possessed by a demonic rockstar. As a result, Jennifer becomes insatiable for the flesh of teenage boys, causing a stir in the quaint town of Devil’s Kettle. Fox nails the role as the it girl overtaken by revenge, with biting one-liners and iconic outfits sticking with the viewer long after the credits roll. Amanda Seyfried’s role as Needy, Jennifer’s loyal best friend turned foe, also stands out as the perfect foil, providing a down to earth voice throughout the film. Although overlooked by audiences upon initial release in 2009, Jennifer’s Body has become a hit with modern fans for its feminist themes and standout performances from Fox and Seyfried. 

Grid Paper
20th Century Fox

When a group of aspiring actors journey to a rural Texas farm with the hopes of making an adult film, they do not realize the true cinematic roller-coaster they are in store for. Directed by Ti West, “X” details the psychological and chilling events that translate after the elderly farm owners realize the actors’ secret plans and become engulfed by revenge. Mia Goth shines as the protagonist Maxine, and, as it is later revealed, as the aging and spiteful Pearl (who just got her own sequel in 2022’s “Pearl!), portraying the duality of youthful aspiration and decrepit jealousy with expertise. Jenna Ortega also shows her proclivity for the horror genre with her truly-terrified performance (and one of the best screams in Hollywood today, in my opinion).

X movie poster, distributed by A24

In “X”’s recently-released prequel, “Pearl” makes one thing abundantly clear: Mia Goth is a star. “Pearl” follows the title character: a determined farmgirl who dreams of Hollywood stardom but is trapped in the role of a caretaker to her senile father. Goth’s innocent demeanor juxtaposed with Pearl’s ambitious darkness is absolutely chilling, and she is magnetic to watch on screen. I am ecstatic to see Goth’s work being recognized by a larger audience, and you will undoubtedly find me on opening day in theaters to watch “Maxxxine,” West’s much anticipated conclusion to the “X” trilogy. 

Pearl movie poster, distributed by A24
Bodies bodies bodies

The rules are simple: If you draw the designated card, you are the “killer.” The lights go out, and the “killer” must target any other player while the participants wander around the dark house. If you discover a victim, you must yell “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” and the group will then deliberate on who is the killer. However, this party game takes a dark twist when a group of sometimes oblivious, always hilarious, wealthy twenty-somethings finds one friend actually dead and must fight to determine who the real murderer is. The tension is complimented perfectly by relatable humor which captures the reality of Gen-Z in a self-aware yet never-cringeworthy way. Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova and Chase Sui Wonders deliver excellent performances, but it is comedian Rachel Sennott, best known for her role in 2020’s “Shiva Baby” and HBO’s upcoming drama “The Idol,” who truly steals the show. Her comedic timing is perfect, and I am dying to see more from her in the future.

Bodies Bodies Bodies movie poster

In one of A24’s most critically acclaimed films, “Hereditary” follows the family of a recently-deceased matriarch that seeks to investigate the sinister fate embedded in their family line and, hopefully, escape their own dark destiny. Truly every member of this cast deserves acclaim for their performances, but Toni Collette’s role as Annie is arguably one of the best horror performances of all time. Her performance is surreal and bold, and you can’t take your eyes off of her for the duration of the film. Her facial expressions perfectly convey the horror of grief and existential dread of the future, which make “Hereditary” a timeless classic for generations to come. 

Hereditary movie poster
Carrie (1976)

Earning her an Academy Award nomination, Sissy Spacek’s performance as sheltered teen turned telekinetic force has made Carrie one of the quintessential stories in the horror genre. After being ridiculed by her classmates, Carrie White is publicly humiliated at her school prom by having pig’s blood dumped on her head in possibly one of the most-recognizable film scenes of all time. In response, Carrie becomes overtaken with her newfound abilities, and madness ensues. Spacek’s performance as a young girl battling the chaos of womanhood and high school is one that anyone can relate to, regardless of whether or not you think you might have supernatural powers.


Director Ari Aster’s sophomore film, Midsommar, follows Dani, played by Florence Pugh, as she accompanies her boyfriend on a trip to rural Sweden to observe Midsummer — a yearly celebration of the summer solstice and fertility. However, as Dani attempts to heal from the traumatizing death of her parents and sister on the trip, she finds herself increasingly disoriented by the cultish practices of the villagers. Pugh, now a household name (and one of my favorite people to grace the Earth), truly shows the full range of human emotions, and viewers can’t help but see themselves represented in Dani throughout the film. The seemingly idyllic setting of the rural community creates a genuinely sinister atmosphere once the true intentions of the cult become clear, creating a horrifying tale of grief in the midst of a completely unfamiliar environment.

Midsommar movie poster, distributed by A24
Ready or not

After just marrying the man of her dreams, who also happens to be exorbitantly wealthy, Grace, played by Samara Weaving, is ecstatic. However, there is one unfortunate catch (obviously): his family. In a thrilling turn of events, Grace must now spend a night fighting for survival from her new in-laws as they attempt to hunt her down for sport. Weaving’s desperate and gritty performance as the confused bride is immediately impressive, and the terror of this film is matched by subtle comedy and lighthearted undertones which makes “Ready or Not” a great watch for even the most skittish of horror fans.

Scream (1996)

With one of the most iconic opening scenes in film history, young Drew Barrymore’s piercing scream provides the perfect introduction to one of the most prolific horror franchises of all time. “Scream (1996)” boasts numerous stellar female performances, including Neve Campbell as Sidney and Courtney Cox as Gale, which build the perfect ensemble cast. The film was a revolutionary take on horror for its time, with witty quips and modern twists making it a lively and vibrant viewing experience. The film follows the masked killer, known as Ghostface, as they embark on a killing spree throughout a suburban high school. With a shocking twist, “Scream (1996)” is the perfect way to get in the spooky, nostalgic Halloween mood this fall, and I would 100 percent recommend hosting a marathon of all of its subsequent sequels and reboots, including this year’s “Scream (2022).”

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Shiva baby

In case you haven’t heard me talk about Rachel Sennott enough, here is one more film that everybody should watch (right now)! While “Shiva Baby,” directed by Emma Seligman, is not technically a horror movie, the sheer sense of impending dread and fear that I felt while watching this film was honestly greater than any slasher film I have ever seen. Sennott stars as Danielle, an aimless young adult currently acting as a sugar baby to an older, married man named Max. But when Danielle is dragged to the Shiva service of a family-friend, she sees Max (and his wife) and must avoid the revelation of the two’s relationship to her parents, ex-girlfriend and the rest of her tight-knit community. The film is the epitome of a bad trip, with dizzying camera work and the claustrophobic set of a packed Shiva service reminding the viewer of the all-too-familiar feeling of being trapped at an exhausting family event with no escape in sight. The frightening jump cuts between elderly aunts asking for help in the kitchen and wailing cries from Max’s newborn baby make “Shiva Baby” absolutely chilling, and Sennott exudes anxiety and humor effortlessly and with a sense of realism, which is incredibly rare in today’s cinema. 

Julia Benkendorf

Northwestern '26

Julia is a first-year student from Chicago, IL studying Journalism at Northwestern University. In her free time, you can find her swimming at the athletic center, exploring downtown Evanston with friends, chasing her dachshund puppy, Tilly, around the park and over-analyzing Taylor Swift's cryptic Instagram posts. Julia would like to thank her mother for always inspiring her love of style and fashion, as well as for always encouraging her to follow her passions.