Welcome back for part two of our series about horror films directed by women. In part one, we took a look at films made through the 1980s, and now we are exploring more recent horror movies, each of which was directed by a woman (or women).
Of course, as time has marches on, it has become more common for women to direct films in all genres, and horror is no exception. Please keep in mind that these are only my own choices of films to cover. There are definitely more than what will be mentioned here.
2000 brought what has become a cult film for lovers of horror, American Psycho. The film version of Brett Easton Ellis’s novel was directed by Mary Harron, and she co-wrote the script with another woman, Guinevere Turner. American Psycho introduced us to Patrick Bateman, a wealthy, possibly psychopathic investment banker in New York. Originally, Stuart Gordon was slated to direct, then David Cronenberg, and after that, Mary Harron became the frontrunner. After keeping Harron on the hook for about a year, Lionsgate pursued Oliver Stone, Danny Boyle and Martin Scorsese, but eventually came back around to their original pick, a wise choice. American Psycho can be streamed on Hulu.
American Mary was directed by two women
The Soska Sisters, Jen and Sylvia both wrote and directed American Mary, which released in 2012. This body horror film tells the story of Mary, a financially struggling surgical student who ends up performing extreme body modifications on strippers. After Mary is tricked by a doctor into attending what she believes is a networking pary, she is sexually assaulted and leaves her medical residency. This being a horror film, Mary seeks revenge on the men responsible for her assault, and it gets pretty bloody and violent. The Soska Sisters were also responsible for the 2019 remake of David Cronenberg’s grisly 1977 film, Rabid. American Mary can be streamed on Tubi.
Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook made its debut at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, after which it had a limited release in art house theatres. The story about Amelia, the widowed, perpetually exhausted mother of young Samuel hit big on Netflix, despite the fact that the character of the challenging boy has been singled out many times as one of the most annoying children in a movie. Still, viewers seemed to sympathize with Amelia’s plight, particularly when a monster known as The Babadook begins to torment the mother and child. The Babadook was Kent’s directorial debut, and she went on to direct 2018’s The Nightingale, which had its premier at the 75th Venice International Film Festival. The Babadook can be streamed on a variety of VOD platforms, including Vudu and Amazon Prime.
Also in 2014, the chilling Austrian psychological horror film Goodnight Mommy came to theaters. Directed by Veronika Franz and her nephew Severin Fiala, Goodnight Mommy is one of my favorite slow burns. A woman recovering from cosmetic surgery has nine-year-old twin sons, Elias and Lukas, who begin to believe that the woman whose face is covered with bandages is not their mother. Franz and Fiala went on to write and direct 2018’s The Field Guide to Evil and 2019’s The Lodge. You can (and should) watch Goodnight Mommy on Tubi and Pluto tv.
2016’s The Love Witch hit the film festival circuit before receiving a limited release in the US. While the look of this comedy horror film is decidedly 1960s, it was unique in that the cars and technology were modern-day. The main character is a beautiful woman named Elaine, who just happens to be a witch. Elaine is trying to start over after her husband died, and we are led to believe that she may have killed him. Elaine searches for a new love, but each man disappoints her and must pay the price. It should come as no surprise that a woman-centric movie such as this one was directed by a woman, Anna Biller. Biller studied relationship books and witchcraft to aid in writing the script for The Love Witch, which can be streamed on Shudder as part of The Last Drive-In’s Valentine special, Joe Bob Put a Spell on You.
Join us next week for the third and final chapter of Horror Films Directed by Women, which will feature movies released from 2017-present.
What are your favorite horror films that were directed by women? Tell us your top picks in the comments section.