A horror junkie's guide to fierce female-driven flicks
Scary movies get a bad rap for representing women as passive victims — and while certainly plenty of them do, it’s definitely not all of them, and not by a long shot. Whether you’re looking for a light-hearted yet spooky flick, or a gruesome psychological horror, you have so many amazing leading ladies to take the journey with you. We love these women for their strength, their humor, and their love. Let’s just hope they make it out alive.
Under The Skin
Set, disturbingly enough, in my hometown of Glasgow, UK, this science fiction thriller will have your skin crawling for days. The unnamed beauty (Scarlett Johansson) is seen trailing the Scottish streets in search of men willing to sleep with her. Little do they know, she is luring them to their deaths, seeking what lies, well, under their skin. The low-droning score and gritty visuals heighten the eerie mood of the movie, and as our protagonist discovers more and more of herself, our fear of her turns into something a lot more sympathetic.
Quentin Tarantino is known for his kickass leading ladies, so it was no surprise when he released a movie with eight of them, it was downright amazing when the women sought revenge on the grimy murderous driver (Kurt Russell). After weeks of luring unsuspecting girls into his partially “death proof” stunt car, and trying to chase three of our main characters into a ditch, the hunter became the hunted. In part two of the movie, our three heroines show no fear once they’re behind the mad driver. With witty remarks and killer driving skills, these women make this the perfect revenge flick.
Out of Tim Burton’s bag of enchantingly creepy stop-motion features, comes the delightfully dark Corpse Bride. After accidentally donning the corpse bride’s wedding ring, our hero Victor (Johnny Depp), is now husband to the murdered bride (Helena Bonham Carter), even though he is in love with another. Our bride is ecstatic, though she soon learns that if she truly loves Victor, then that means putting his wishes first. Not many spooky flicks have that caring message to them; plus, it’s filled with maggots and skeletons, which sounds like the perfect creepy tale to me!
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Before Joss Whedon’s radical revival for TV, there was a cozy yet kickass movie about a small town girl, living in a vampire-infested world. Buffy (Kristy Swanson) is the epitome of the badass heroine: beautiful, witty, and strong enough to kick down a few doors. This movie is also the epitome of cheese. With an early 90s vibe and a cool guy on a motorcycle, what’s not to love?
Candyman is a modern twist on the age old tale of Bloody Mary, a twist that brings along with it an interesting insight into urban poverty, and inner city crime, plus a lot of terrifying wasps. Our heroine, Helen (Virgina Madsen), is a sceptic researching urban legends, and she becomes dragged into the murderous tale after reciting “Candyman” three times into her mirror as a joke. She is branded insane by those around her as she begins to see the Candyman (Tony Todd) everywhere she goes; but despite her terrifying ordeal, Helen never once gives up hope of stopping the hook-handed menace. I recommend the movie, but try not to read his name aloud near any mirrors. . .
The story of a mother’s undying love for her child and, well, some horribly disturbing “things.” Rose (Radha Mitchell) wants nothing more than to help her little girl (Jodelle Ferland) decode her haunted past and kill the nightmares that plague her. As it turns out, going to the misty town of Silent Hill doesn’t so much fix the problems as it does utterly enhance them. Much like the original video game, this film’s unsettling and dream-like score, as well as the distressing creature designs, make it a must-watch.
I’m a huge fan of movies that subvert tropes and clichés, and Hard Candy does this to the letter. The classic spider-to-the-web trope begins to play out immediately as vulnerable, barely-teen Hayley (Ellen Page) makes a date with 32-year-old photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson). But it’s not the vulnerable young girl who falls into the trap; it’s the contemptible pedophile who attempted to lure her. Hayley is clever, disturbed, and fierce, so much so that we almost forget we’re on her side.
The truly unsettling thing about this movie is the idea that the human mind is capable of putting someone through what Nina (Natalie Portman) goes through. As an up and coming ballerina manipulatively pushed by her mother, Nina falls into a pit of paranoia, hallucinations, and severe self-consciousness, yet she never gives up on her goals. The subtle direction of this film gives you the chance to catch new visuals with every new viewing, and let me tell you, they get darker every time.
Cabin in the Woods
Another film that subverts classic tropes while celebrating them. Unlike many similarly-themed films, Cabin in the Woods focuses on a group of heavily-manipulated teens that have been pulled into a heavily-constructed setting in order to; well, I won’t spoil it. But as Evil Dead-esque happenings occur, our teens are left fighting for their survival, and their sanity. Our heroine Dana (Kristen Connolly), isn’t willing to fall for the obviously orchestrated horror, and though she is scared and confused, she battles the elements and finds the key to try and end the suffering.
No list of fierce females would be complete without one of the fiercest of all: the demonically-possessed Jennifer (Megan Fox). . Though it’s her best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) who really deserves the credit. Even without demonic powers, Needy escapes certain death and even institutionalization as she tries to solve the puzzle as to why boys in her school are going missing, and why her best friend is suddenly acting so strangely. Jennifer’s Body is not only funny and grotesque, but it also highlights the idea of the war that brews in girl friendships, and how only sacrifice will end it.
Stephanie Watson is a freelance journalist and budding author from blustery Scotland. When she’s not editing and writing for her website Reasons to be Beautiful Magazine, she’s usually found watching cheesy films and making adorable yet slightly useless crafts. Stephanie’s goals include publishing a novel or three, making a name for herself in the world of journalism, and if she has time then moving into Aurora’s castle in Disneyland.