The first major horror movie to hit theaters this year is the unfortunately titled movie The Bye Bye Man. The reviews have been scathing and with good reason. Aside from a fun performance from Leigh Whannell, it drops the ball on every other level. A shame too, because lost amidst the poor reviews and jokes about the title is the fact that director Stacy Title is the first woman to direct a major studio horror movie since 2013's Carrie remake. Even crazier is how long she has been involved with the film industry. A bit of a workman director, she has been in the business for over 20 years, working on independent films like Let The Devil Wear Black, The Last Supper and the ultimate guilty pleasure, Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror.
While women are seen less behind the camera already this is particularly surprising considering how many great female directors are already involved with horror. For the past few years there has been a noticeable increase of female directors in the independent horror scene. For example, recent critical darlings likes The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night were directed by Jennifer Kent and Ana Lily Amirpour, respectively. In fact, there is so much talent out there that several of them have come together to put out upcoming horror anthology XX. Even with XX coming in February, there are still a ton of kick-ass women worth watching. So, with that in mind, here are six female horror directors that should be on your radar.
6. The Soska Sisters
- Notable Films: American Mary, See No Evil 2, Vendetta
Perhaps the most well-known directors on this list are Canada's very own Soska Sisters. Breaking out with the exploitation film Dead Hooker in a Trunk, this dynamic duo have made major strides in genre cinema. Whether it is the body horror of American Mary or making some of the better WWE Studio movies in See No Evil 2 and Vendetta, they have developed a dedicated fanbase of gore hounds. Enough of a base that they have even recently entered TV game as the hosts of popular game show Hellevator. They may not have nabbed Deadpool 2, but the future is looking bright for the Twisted Twins.
5. Gigi Saul Guerrero
- Notable Films: Barbarous Mexico, ABC's of Death 2.5
Born in Mexico City, Mexico actress-director Gigi Saul Guerrero has slowly been making a name for herself thanks to her unique brand of horror. The co-founder of LuchaGore pictures, she has taken inspiration from her roots and has a filmography full of macabre Mexican culture. With a grindhouse aesthetic, we have seen everything from murderous luchadores to matador slashers. With an appearance in the upcoming anthology Aztech and a secret project tentatively called #ProjectLucha, I can't wait to see more of her unique brand of scares in the future.
4. Roxanne Benjamin
- Notable Films: Southbound, V/H/S 1&2
Roxanne Benjamin may not be a name you know now, but you will soon. More known as a producer, she worked on the popular V/H/S series before jumping in the director's chair. Directing the Southbound segment "Siren," she displayed a knack for creating a creepy atmosphere and creative screenwriting. Set to return with a segment titled "Don't Fall" in XX, it will be interesting to see her evolve as a filmmaker.
3. Veronika Franz
- Notable Films: Goodnight Mommy, Kern
One of the biggest movies to come out of the 2014 festival circuit was Austrian film Goodnight Mommy from director Veronika Franz. Unlike a lot of hits on the festival circuit, it lived up to all the hype. While more well known for dramas and documentaries, Franz delivered a film that did what few can: blended New French Extremity and a psychological thriller. I have no clue if she will return to horror, but if she does she will be welcomed with open arms.
2. Rebekah McKendry
- Notable Films: Witches Brew, Found
Despite horror's popularity, the amount of people that you could consider scholars of the genre isn't that big. One of the most prominent supporters of the genre is Rebekah McKendry. Working at Fangoria for over a decade, she is currently Editor-In-Chief of Blumhouse.com as well as a host on the Shock Waves podcast. With a Master's degree in Film Theory with a focus on horror (which sounds like the coolest thing ever), she will be bringing her knowledge of the genre to film with her feature debut All The Creatures Were Stirring.
A horror-comedy set around Christmas, it is currently filming and the cast includes Brea Grant, Constance Wu and Jocelin Donahue. While there's no release date set, I have no doubt McKendry's admiration for horror will shine like it has through the rest of her career.
1. Julia Ducournau
- Notable Films: Raw
A relative newcomer, Julia Ducournau has only recently made her feature film, Raw. Another festival hit, this is one of the few films willing to delve into the cannibal subgenre. Even more impressive, it doesn't go the stereotypical savage natives route. The movie is supposed to be so disturbing that there were reports of audience members fainting in the audience at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. What makes it interesting is that it's more than just blood and guts. Praised by critics, it has gone on to win a couple of festival awards and an 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Revealing in a Rolling Stone piece that she plans to stay in the horror genre, it looks like the future of horror is in good hands.
Over the years, horror has developed a reputation as a boy's club, and it is easy to see why. From the portrayals on the screen to the lack of diversity behind the scenes, it is easy to understand why it has such a stigma. However, as horror has become more accepted by the mainstream, the more diverse it has gotten. With these new, unique voices making themselves heard, here's hoping Hollywood takes more chances on them.
Did I miss any directors? What horror movies are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments!