Women In Horror Month : Who, What, Why
February 2018 is the 9th annual Women in Horror Month.
Women love the horror industry, whether they're blazing the trail in publishing like Shirley Jackson, or on the big screen like Mary Harron who directed American Psycho, one thing is for sure - women contribute more to this genre then a screaming lady being chased by an hatchet wielding maniac.
So why is horror so appealing and how can we continue to encourage female contribution? “Horror reflects society,” Professor Barbara Creed, author of The Monstrous-Feminine, told The Guardian back in 2007. “What we probably need are more thoughtful horror films that speak directly to female experiences.”
Meaning, it's probably a good idea to put aside the outdated female stereotypical roles in the genre and encourage more authentic and empowering characters, plots, and premises.
One woman doing just that is Julia Ducournau, director of the horror film Raw, a movie about a teenage vegetarian who becomes a cannibal. "A young guy in a festival audience told me that it was nice to have women in the genre because it brought some 'softness,'" says Ducournau... "Softness? Have you seen my movie? When you make horror, it's the expression of a form of violence that you feel inside of you – and it's important we recognize that women feel violence and anger as well."
There's nothing wrong with a woman's "softness", but don't expect all female horror buffs to come at their projects from that angel. For some, it's all about guts and gore. Others, like Anne Rice, mix alluring gothic romance with vampire horror. Subtle horror, psychological horror, supernatural horror...I still say the scariest movie of all time is Halloween, and what I remember most has nothing to do with any of the killing scenes. It's the scenes in the daylight, when someone is walking down the street and the audience catches a glimpse of Michael Myers standing down the sidewalk. In the next flash, he's gone. Horror can really be whatever the creator wants as long as it gets under the audience's skin, so of course this will appeal to both men and women. And while there are traditional slasher movies, horror also explores the darkness in us all, the despair, the loneliness, the anger, the rage. Women aren't shying away from these topics, they aren't afraid to embrace their softness, nor are they afraid to shed it. Which is why we need female horror creatives. We need their voice, their stories, their characters, their gusto.
If you're looking for a way to support women in horror, consider reading Daphne Du Maurier, Joyce Carol Oats, Octavia Butler, and Mariko Koike. If you're looking to watch a female directed horror movie, check out Pet Cemetery, Jennifer's Body, A Girl Walks Home Alone, and The Babadook.