Many horror fans know of a small handful of horror films that were directed by women. These include Near Dark, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Babadook, American Psycho, and Ravenous. But there are many more lesser-known horror films that have benefited from the unique perspectives of the women who brought them to life. In many cases, the female directors also wrote and/or starred in the films too. Here are a few horror movies directed by women to put on your watch list.
In My Skin (Dans Ma Peau), Marina de Van
A disturbing and sometimes hard to watch 2002 French movie, In My Skin is the story of an intelligent and successful woman whose leg gets injured in an accident. She doesn’t feel anything, but afterwards she becomes fascinated by the wound and is compelled to continue cutting her leg. The self-harm and self-mutilation progress as she then begins to inflict injuries on other parts of her body, including her face.
Chained, Jennifer Lynch
This 2012 Canadian horror film is about a serial killer cab driver named Bob who abducts, sexually assaults, and then kills young women. After killing one woman, he keeps her young son Tim and makes him a slave. Tim grows up into a teenager and Bob encourages him to take on the tradition of killing along with him. Will he follow in Bob’s footsteps? Oh, and where’s his biological father been for all the years he was missing?
The Countess, Julie Delpy
This French-German film from 2009 tells the true story of Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, accused of torturing and killing hundreds of adolescent girls in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Called Countess Dracula, Bathory lured the girls to her estate and brutally tortured them until they died. Legend has it she also bathed in the girls’ blood to maintain her youthful beauty.
Ju-On: Black Ghost, Mari Asato
This 2009 entry in the Japanese horror canon is about a young girl named Fukie who begins to behave strangely. She’s taken to the hospital where a cyst is found in her body. The cyst is discovered to be her unborn twin, and it acts like an evil spirit possessing her body. An exorcism is attempted to expel the evil spirit, but things go from bad to worse as the entity manages to expel Fukie’s soul and then take over her body.
American Mary, Jen and Sylvia Soska
Another Canadian entry, this 2012 film is about a young medical student who hopes to become a surgeon. She becomes involved in the underground world of extreme body modification, drops out of school, and turns into a skilled body modification surgeon. In her spare time, she performs some gory, non-consensual body mod procedures on a doctor who raped her.
Silent House, Chris Kentis and Laura Lau
This popular 2011 horror film is about a young woman named Sarah who is fixing up a creepy old house with her father and uncle when a mysterious young girl named Sophia shows up and strange things start happening. Is Sophia real or a hallucination, and what are the dark secrets concerning the father and uncle that she is trying to communicate to Sarah?
Pet Semetary, Mary Lambert
1989’s Pet Semetary was directed by Lambert and the screenplay was written by Stephen King, the author of the book of the same name. A strange and mysterious pet cemetery in the Maine woods turns out to have some pretty remarkable powers. When both dead pets and humans are buried there, they somehow come back to life…just not quite the same as they were before.
Honeymoon, Leigh Janiak
This recent 2014 entry tells the story of a young couple named Bea and Paul who go off on their honeymoon in a secluded cabin in the woods. Bea begins to act very strangely after she goes missing one night and is found naked and disoriented in the woods. What happened to her that night in the woods…and what are those strange marks on her inner thighs?