Originally, this list was going to be my personal favorite horror films directed by women. However, instead of making yet another list about women created by a man, I've chosen to open this space up to women to share their favorite horror titles directed by other women.
I contacted female horror fans, filmmakers, writers and film critics, and asked them which films they would recommend and what those films mean to them. Here are their responses.
1. Chained, directed by Jennifer Lynch
"Chained is truly one of the greatest films I have ever seen. I think about it constantly and always find something new in it I didn't find before." —Amy Seidman, horror writer
When the children of great directors grow up and make their own movies, it's tough to avoid comparisons. That is, until they become as great or even greater. Nowadays people are talking more about Sofia Coppola than Francis Ford Coppola! With Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David Lynch, it's the same story — her work stands completely by itself and so does her career as a whole.
2. Pet Sematary, directed by Mary Lambert
"Pet Sematary is a movie beyond horror. It is about choices and loss. I like it especially because it makes us accomplices in some distressing situations that makes us question if we would do the same thing those characters did. Besides the great central and secondary characters, it has a dark ambiance and good soundtrack. It has aged, so I would love to see a remake that lives up to Stephen King's work." —Taty Camara, horror fan
Mary Lambert's Pet Sematary is one of the most popular horror movies from the 1980s, which is saying a lot. One of her greatest accomplishments is the way she pulls the viewer inside the story. There are rumors of a remake on the way, so let's hope it leaves a lasting impression as Lambert's movie did.
3. American Mary, directed by the Soska Sisters
"I think Mary is a character who grows inside the story. She goes from an abused woman to a woman who attempts to regain control of her own life, which makes her fascinated by illegal surgery, because the people who go to her to do body modification do not care about what other people think; they have control over their own bodies, which externalize their feelings without fear." —Bruna Alfama, writer
When it comes to abuse and misogyny, Jen and Sylvia Soska aren't keen on merely discussing the subject, but rather making a statement that there's no more room for that anymore.
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4. Office Killer, directed by Cindy Sherman
"It has everything I love from this genre: it's a slasher and black comedy, with some gore and creepy stuff thanks to the great work of Carol Kane. She's really great in this! A really fun ride, also a bit dark and sad at some points, so it makes you feel different emotions that I wasn't expecting watching it for the first time! I rec this one especially to people who liked May (2002), pretty similar stuff." - Fabiola, horror fan
Back in the '80s and 90s there was an interesting batch of women-made slasher/horror. One of my all time favorite movies happens to be one of these: Deborah Brock's Slumber Party Massacre 2. It'd make a great back-to-back with 1997's Office Killer.
5. The Babadook, directed by Jennifer Kent
"It depicts depression and demystifies maternity. To talk about a mother trying to raise a kid alone while she recovers from a trauma is the kind of film that had better be directed by woman." —Renata Batistini, filmmaker
The Babadook stormed film festivals in 2014 and '15, establishing Kent as one of the most promising names in contemporary horror. A powerful film about motherhood, it highly benefits from having a woman in the director's chair, as Renata points out. Not only does Kent approach this subject with a very particular sensibility, but she also does so with remarkable skill. Originally from Australia, she is currently involved on a new project, The Nightingale, which is deeply rooted in her country's culture.
6. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
"It's a film about connection in-between loneliness. People who watch this expecting terror and bloodbath will be left disappointed, because the film is more symbolic and sensible. At times it is hard to grasp the underlying criticism... The lonely vampire, who likes to walk alone at night, could have easily been the victim of sexual and urban violence; however, she is the predator herself. Besides the feminist motif, the mixture of up-to-date elements (drugs, urban chaos, indie music) and classical horror (B&W and vampires) makes A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night an original film." —Barbara Antônia, horror fan/filmmaker
Like American Mary, this film subverts the ideas of victim and predator. Amirpour's work also seems to completely take away the usual sexualization of female vampires, which are frequently objectified in manmade movies. S will be back in 2017 with her new film The Bad Batch.
7. American Psycho, directed by Mary Harron
"I love how the movie profiles mental illness and the overall struggle within the class system. Patrick Bateman is not only unhappy, but he's jealous of anything that comes easier for someone else." —Jenika Enoch, writer
"One of my favorite horror movies directed by a woman is, no doubt, American Psycho. The director, Mary Harron, managed to adapt Bret Easton Ellis's controversial book in such a masterful way that not even the explicit sex and violence — let alone the censorship that cut away some scenes — managed to erase the social and behavioral criticism of it. Not to forget Christican Bale, who delivers a spot-on performance as the yuppie serial killer Patrick Bateman, which helped to level American Psycho to a cult film status, idolized by horror fans. It's also important to point out the work of Mary Harron, who debuted with the acclaimed I Shot Andy Warhol — a movie about the radical feminist Valerie Solanas — and also a biopic about model Bettie Page." —Niia Silveira, writer/critic
American Psycho goes up against the entire yuppie generation, which makes its very existence a powerful statement and one of the '00s most important movies.
8. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, directed by Rachel Talalay
"This may be my favorite Freddy movie (with the third one). I love the characters. It has a couple of strong-willed women. And I loved some of the deaths. And I loved the way the town is portrayed (there are no teenagers anymore and the adults are crazy because of that)." - Akari Kekse, writer
Often disregarded as one of the lesser sequels, Freddy's Dead has an undeniable charm. Out of the big four (Freddy, Jason, Myers and Chucky), Freddy was the only one to ever be directed by a woman.
9. The Invitation, directed by Karyn Kusama
"I didn't expect much from the film, but I ended up really satisfied with it. The atmosphere of tension and suspense is present all the time and we are left to imagine what sort of disgrace is about to come next. It's important to know that it is a slow movie, but that increases the stress of not knowing what's about to happen. The ending made me think about it for two days." —Laura Dourado, journalist
One of 2015's greatest horror movies. Kusama completely nails the right mood and tone. Kusama is about to release a new project, titled XX, which is a horror anthology directed only by women. Besides Kusama, the project has Roxanne Benjamin, Sofia Carrillo and Jovanka Vuckovic aboard.
Is there another female directed horror film you would like to talk about? Speak out about it in the comments below!