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14 Brilliant Women Who Make Horror Films

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Of course we’re talking about Halloween, and as you’ve still got a whole day to make the most of all the best horror films around, we thought we’d celebrate the magic of the season by recognizing some of the brilliant women who’ve made some of horror’s biggest hits, cult smashes, and undiscovered gems. Below is a list of just some of our favorite humans who have terrified us to the core, and we can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the best holiday of the year than with their work.

Claire Denis

You might’ve heard of the New French Extremism movement–a brutal, visceral collection of extreme horror films from the ’00s. But you might not have heard of the brilliant woman who helped spark the subgenre. Claire Denis is an award winning auteur who in 2001 almost sunk her career with the incredible sci-fi horror Trouble Every Day. While some of the men who followed her were seen as enfant terribles, Denis was overlooked. Luckily, she’s returned to genre filmmaking with the spectacular and spooky High Life which hits theaters on November 6.

Trouble Every Day is currently streaming on Amazon Prime

Karyn Kusama

Kusama’s The Invitation is one of the best horror films of the last few years. A searing, slow burn thriller that plays with your expectations until the very last minute, the film was brilliant. But her horror chops shouldn’t have surprised anyone because she made the years-ahead-of-its-time Jennifer’s Body. The satirical high school horror was terribly underrated on its release and meant that Kusama’s talents were ignored for far too long.

The Invitation is currently streaming on Netflix, Jennifer’s Body is streaming on HBO Now

Jennifer Kent

The Babadook was arguably the film that ignited the “elevated horror” trend of the last several years. Kent’s intense, simmering portrayal of grief, paranoia, and parenthood is a singular experience. Her period piece follow up, The Nightingale, premiered this year at Venice Film Festival and focuses on the power of female rage and emotion as a young convict hunts down a British soldier who committed a brutal act of violence against her family.

Mary Harron

Mary Harron brought much needed humor and razor sharp satire American Psycho, which could have easily missed the mark of the iconic Bret Easton Ellis novel. Though the film was well received and won multiple awards, Harron never made another feature. But you can still catch her brilliant directorial stylings on the absolutely haunting Margaret Atwood miniseries Alias Grace.

American Psycho is currently streaming on Hulu, Alias Grace is available on Netflix

Maria Wilson

Venefica is one of the best films streaming on Shudder at the moment. It also happens to be one of the shortest, with a running time of only a few minutes. An atmospheric, chilling, pitch black short about coming of age and witchcraft, it immediately sets up Maria Wilson as one of the most exciting directors in horror, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Venefica is currently streaming on Shudder

The Soska Sisters

The Soska Sisters’ searing sophomore feature, American Mary, is a stunning exploration of trauma, revenge, and body modification. It set the Sisters apart as ones to watch, but since then they’ve mostly been unjustly relegated to making straight to home video movies for WWE. They’re currently working on a remake of Cronenberg’s classic Rabid, but we can’t wait to see them return to making their own films.

American Mary is currently streaming on XLTV

Julia Ducournau

Ducournau’s debut film Raw is an astounding cannibal horror about a young girl with a growing hunger for human flesh. Beautiful, terrifying, and full of the pain and passion of growing up, Raw is not be missed.

Raw is currently streaming on Netflix

Alice Lowe

Lowe is a hilarious comedian and writer, and her horror talents were hinted at in her pitch black comedy Sightseers. But her first directorial outing Prevenge really established her as a vibrant genre talent. The British film focuses on a pregnant woman who goes on a vengeance spree spurred on by her unborn child.

Prevenge is currently streaming on Shudder

Leigh Janiak

Another startling debut, Janiak’s Honeymoon is a chilling body horror film set in a classic cabin in the woods. The film follows a pair of newlyweds venture out on their first trip as a married couple. A creepy monster feature with a fantastic lead turn from Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie, this is a female-led and female-made horror flick like no other.

Honeymoon is currently streaming on Hulu

Rachel Talalay

The only woman to direct a Nightmare On Elm Street movie, Talalay is a force to be reckoned with. Hers was the sixth entry in the killer franchise, after which she helmed Tank Girl and went on to have a spectacular television career including directing episodes of Supergirl, The Flash, Supernatural, Ally Mcbeal, Riverdale, and American Gods. She’s recently returned to genre work, directing an episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina!

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is currently streaming on Direct TV, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is currently streaming on Netflix

Shimako Satō

Satō is an accomplished Japanese director who has overseen popular franchises, cult hits, and even directed installments of the Resident Evil video game series. But in the US she’s probably most well known for her cult 1992 Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, Tale of a Vampire.

Tale of a Vampire is currently streaming on Amazon Prime

Kathryn Bigelow

Better known for her Oscar winning war dramas, Kathryn Bigelow began making brilliant ’80s movies like the all-time classic Point Break and cult smash Near Dark. The latter is an awesome entry into vampire canon, in which a small town farm boy is bitten by a beautiful drifter and has to join a cool gang of roving nightstalkers.

Mary Lambert

Lambert is another accomplished TV director who began in genre filmmaking, directing both Pet Sematary and its Edward Furlong starring sequel. Lambert’s atmospheric Stephen King adaptations terrified us as children and she’s still a force to be reckoned with in the world of television.

Karen Lam

Lam’s most known work is the 2013 chiller Evangeline, which focuses on a vengeful demon who revives a young woman killed in a brutal attack. It’s a great horror flick, but Lam actually has a back catalog of horrifyingly good horror shorts and a low-budget 2010 feature about an obsessive bookseller called Stained that really makes us want to see her tackle a bigger horror property.

Evangeline is currently streaming on Hulu

Images: Rézo Films, Netflix, Entertainment One, Lionsgate Films, Shudder, Universal Pictures, Focus World, Kaleidoscope Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures, New Line Cinema, DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, Paramount Pictures, Uncork’d Entertainment

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