Five Female-Directed Horror Films

The art of film-directing has been a male dominated field since film’s conception. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in films directed by women, especially in the art-horror genre. Due to this and with it being October, I found it appropriate to highlight a few horror films that were directed by women. I have seen most of the films on this list and highly recommend them and if you’re someone who isn’t squeamish when it comes to horror, I hope you’ll be able to check them out, too.


First on our list is “The Babadook,” which was directed by Jennifer Kent in her directorial debut. Released in 2014, “The Babadook” is a psychological horror film that follows Amelia Vanek, a widow who still struggles with the death of her husband and Samuel, her young son who experiences extreme anxiety due to his fear of monsters. After the appearance of a mysterious children’s book titled “Mister Babadook,” the two fall into deep paranoia as the titular creature begins tormenting them in their daily lives. I watched this film for my MCL 343 Horror Global class and I would highly recommend it. I love the focus it has on the struggles of being a single mother and the symbolism it carries in regard to repressing traumatic events and how they can cause us to deteriorate if we do not handle them properly. 


Next is “Jennifer’s Body,” a 2009 black comedy-horror directed by Karyn Kusama. I remember seeing trailers for the film as a kid but unfortunately, seven year old Jordyn was still traumatized by the Friday the 13th remake which came out the same year, so I was turned off by anything horror. I will admit, I have not yet seen “Jennifer’s Body,” but in recent years, I have noticed the film has begun to garner a lot of praise despite its poor reception upon release. According to Constance Grady of Vox, “Jennifer’s Body” is now being regarded as a “forgotten feminist classic,” especially in the wake of the Me Too Movement. In an interview with Emily Todd VanDerWerff of Vox, screenwriter Diablo Cody has also said the film was marketed the wrong way. Producers reportedly wanted to market “Jennifer’s Body” toward boys who liked Megan Fox; however, Cody argued the film was for girls as well. While “Jennifer’s Body” might have underperformed at the box office upon release, I am happy to see its critical reception improve nowadays. I will definitely be checking it out when I have the time and by what I am hearing, I think I will enjoy it. 


Another film I have seen, “American Mary” is a 2012 Canadian body horror film directed (and written) by Jen and Sylvia Soska. The film follows Mary Mason, a medical student who begins taking on clients in the underground body modification business in order to ease her financial struggles. If you are someone who doesn’t deal well with body horror or sensitive and triggering topics, I would not recommend “American Mary.” I wouldn’t say it’s a difficult film to digest, but it is rather jarring upon first view. Even so, I still recommend the film. It’s an interesting take on the body horror genre and I like how the main protagonist overcomes the issues in her life and takes matters into her own hands. It’s nice to see her exact revenge on the people who have done her wrong and grow confidence in her surgical abilities. 


Last on our list is “Candyman,” an upcoming supernatural slasher film directed by Nia DaCosta. The film is a direct sequel to the 1992 film of the same name and follows Anthony McCoy, a visual artist who lives in the now gentrified Cabrini Green. With his career on the decline, Anthony begins to explore the past of Candyman and as he does so, his sanity begins to unravel. “Candyman” has been one of the most anticipated films since it was announced and even though the film has been pushed back from its initial June 12, 2020 released, many people (such as myself) are still anticipating the film. I feel as though it’s going to be a good one and even though it hasn’t been released, you should give it a shot once it does. While you wait, though, definitely check out the 1992 film. It’s amazing.


    While this list doesn’t encompass all of the women who have directed horror movies in film cinema, I would say it is a good start. If you are a fan of horror and someone who wants to support female film directors, I would implore you to give the films mentioned above a watch! For Nia DaCosta’s “Candyman,” I suggest boosting the film on social media and telling your friends to be on the lookout for it. While it’s one of the most anticipated films, it’s important to not let the hype die!