The Role of Women in Horror Films

She's more than just eye-candy

I remember watching my first horror movie at around four years old and I’ve never looked back. For 19 years I’ve watched countless sorority girls succumb to the crazed killer. Every once in a while, I was lucky enough to come across a strong female lead that defied pre-defined gender norms in horror films. I never questioned these norms as I should’ve. Thankfully society has brought the topic of women in horror films to the forefront again.

In the most recent Halloween film, viewers were graced with three strong female leads. As to not spoil the movie for anyone I’ll just say, they kicked ass. Jamie Lee Curtis, the original Scream Queen, spent the last few days celebrating the gender barriers this movie broke.

It isn’t often we’re graced with three female leads in one horror flick. We were lucky enough when we were given Sidney Prescott, Erin in You’re Next, and Jennifer in the remake of I Spit on Your Grave. What Halloween illustrated was that not only can we have multiple strong female leads, but that we desperately need them.

We’re past the time in which women can only be portrayed as dumb, promiscuous eye-candy for male viewers. Many women are interested in horror films and appreciate its art. We’re tired of only seeing one version of ourselves on the big screen.

The obvious solution to this problem would be to hire more female directors. But according to Jason Blum, the producer and owner of Blumhouse, there aren’t many female directors to begin with. Let alone any who want to work in the horror genre.

In typical internet fashion, Blum was called out for his ignorant comments and proceeded to say he would put in more work to find female directors. Blum has the power to catapult the career of any director who works with him. If he starts taking in more female directors, imagine the possibilities!

While I don’t think less of horror films because of how they have previously portrayed women, I do think they can do better. I believe that horror films have done a great job at trying to include women in their stories as supporting and at times main characters. Now it’s time to take that further.

We need more female horror film directors. Through them we can unlock a whole new realm of storytelling. Not only do we need women, we need more diverse women, and men, directors. Get Out‘s success is a huge indicator that society needs, always has and always will, more diverse movies in all genres.

It’ll take time to see real change in the realm of horror movies’ gender norms. Let’s speed that up by supporting and viewing horror films directed by women. Hiring more female directors is just half of the equation. We, the audience, have to show up for them.

Cover Image courtesy of ScreenGeek.


Davyn is a journalism student at Arizona State University. During her free...