by Patrick Bromley
I've been trying to write some stuff about Women in Horror Month this February because a) I love horror movies and I love different voices in the genre and b) if I don't, I'm just part of the problem. My favorite subscription service Shudder has curated a decent-sized library of titles directed by women, so I've gone a step further and done you the service of pulling out a bunch of the movies I think are really good and/or worth watching. You know how I do. There are a lot of good films -- and, even more, a lot of great filmmakers -- on this list. Even if you don't get a chance to watch everything included, be sure to follow the careers of most of the names mentioned.
Innsmouth (2015, dir. Izzy Lee)
Soulmate (2013, dir. Axelle Carolyn)
Tales of Halloween does some of this same stuff very well but adds in the scares). Somebody greenlight her next project already.
The Stylist (2016, dir. Jill Gevargizian)
Contracted's Najarra Townsend as a hair stylist who gets a client late one night and gives her a very special haircut. The most ambitious short to date from director Jill Gevargizian is evidence that she needs a feature sooner than later, as this is exquisitely made and acted -- the photography is beautiful, the compositions and pacing confident. Plus, it's really gory and gross. What I especially like about it is the way it begins, as many short films do, as something that is premise-based but by the end has totally become a character piece. I will continue following Gevargizian closely and can't wait to see what she does next. A few weeks ago I was talking with my Daily Dead peeps and nominated her to direct the next Halloween movie based on this short. We know that won't happen now, but I'm ok with that. I think I'd much rather see what Gevargizian comes up with on her own than have to play in someone else's sandbox.
Mirror, Mirror (1990, dir. Marina Sargenti)
Kathryn Bigelow directing Near Dark, Mary Lambert directing Pet Sematary, Rachel Talalay directing Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare -- but it was still too much an exception and not enough rule (the more things change...). One female-helmed horror movie that doesn't get talked about enough -- and by that I mean practically at all, since I had never heard of it until it showed up on Shudder several months back -- is Marina Sargenti's Mirror, Mirror, about a super goth girl (Rainbow Harvest) who moves to a new house where she finds a magic mirror with the ability to grant her wishes. Discovering this one made me sad I hadn't seen it years earlier, as there's so much to like in it: Rainbow Harvest is Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice by way of Leslie Mann, plus Charlie Spradling is in it. But the best thing about Mirror, Mirror is its willingness to go to places I suspected it would only hint at going. Director Sargenti never made another theatrical feature, instead directing TV for a few more years before apparently getting out of the business.
The Room at the Top of the Stairs (2009, dir. Briony Kidd)
My Sucky Teen Romance (2011, dir. Emily Hagins)
Coin Heist). Her third film, My Sucky Teen Romance, is more of a teen comedy set inside the horror universe as a young girl falls in love with a teenage vampire during a weekend at a genre convention. This feels the most personal of all her movies because it's so much about being young and loving certain kinds of stuff -- Hagins sets it in a world that feels totally authentic because it's a world she knows. It's neither the funniest nor the most romantic of romantic comedies, but it's utterly charming.
Consommé (2015, dir. Catherine Fordham)
The Velvet Vampire (1970, dir. Stephanie Rothman)
The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (2013, dir. Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani)
Trouble Every Day (2001, dir. Claire Denis)
Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009, dir. Jen and Sylvia Soska)
Grindhouse. It's a first film and it feels very much like one, super rough around the edges but made with a ton of energy and attitude. It's more mid-'90s, post-Tarantino crime caper rip-off than it is straight horror, but it's very entertaining if you watch it as the building blocks of what's to come. It's also fun to see the sisters play the two lead roles; they cameo in their other movies, but this offers their largest acting roles to date.