Women in Horror: Favorite Films with Female-Led Narratives
Welcome to the last blog of the summer! I cannot tell you how happy I am to have this summer be at an end. Bring on the autumn colors, comfy sweaters and spooky ghost stories I am ready for fall!
I thought I'd end the summer on a light note and list my favorite female-led film narratives of the summer.
Directed by Alex Garland
This movie is great. let’s just get that out there right up front. From the moment I first heard about it, I was experiencing considerable hype to see it. As many of you may know, I currently live in Germany and when I heard that the movie was going straight to Netflix for international distribution, I was naturally very bummed. Finally a horror movie with a cast of diverse, strong women and from what I hear the producers just decided not to even give it a chance in international theaters. Boo!
Let me tell you, this movie is gorgeous! Even the creepy parts are gorgeous. This deserves to- and should be seen on the big screen. I loved the super poppy colors and the general design of this resonates so deeply with me. In case you keep up with my painting, you may know that my current series is called The Nature of Death and it is all about the interconnectivity of nature, humans and death. Annihilation follows similar themes, in that a seemingly unstoppable force is laying claim to everything it touches and the humans have to face the uncertainty of the unknown and deal with their personal demons along the way, their inner transformation concurrent with the changes occurring in them as a result of the alien surroundings. The five main actors deliver great performances, the world they enter is terrifying yet beautiful and the horror scenes are really, really creepy.
One of my favorite films from 2017, Raw got my attention due to the sheer beauty of the trailer. It was right from the opening scene a gorgeously shot film, set in the French country-side, which drew you in through an amazing sequence of wide shots. Filmed with a generally lush, earthy color palette, interspersed with hints of saturated colors when scenes intensified in tone and nature. Visceral and fresh like an open wound, the movie focuses on queazy attention to flesh and sweat. Where some movies tend to shy away from the natural aspects of being human and prefer to gloss over and photoshop it’s actors, Raw takes people as they are, with all their flaws and lets them grow.
The dynamic between the main character and her sister, plus her development as a person, are intense to watch and unfold. If you remember your teenage years or are still in them, you know those times are full of change, transformation and exploration.
My only request of you for this movie is this: Do not eat anything while watching it. I made this mistake and had to pause because of some pretty gut-wrenching scenes. I love this movie from top to bottom. Brutal, honest and loving.
Directed by Joachim Trier
I discovered this film recently thanks to an artist I like, Candice Tripp doing some art inspired by the movie.
Thelma is one beautifully shot movie and it deals with a lot of interesting themes, such as the dangers of suppressing your emotions, denying yourself and the aguish this causes you and those around you.
It is also (and I bet you have spotted this as a bit of a running theme with this list) beautifully filmed and the cinematography spends a lot of time on atmospheric depictions of its setting. Like a Studio Ghibli movie it is full of environmental shots and little accessory appendages on sequences, the purpose of which is only the enhancement of the atmosphere. The movie is just through its camera so clearly stamped as Norwegian, that the country becomes a character, but it isn’t the only convincing performance by a long shot. Thelma is also very well cast and Eili Harboe is delivering the anxiety and trauma just as well as the softer moments of her character's development and the chemistry with Kaya Wilkins is delightfully believable. How many movies have I seen, in which straight actresses play gay characters and the wooden lack of attraction to their co-stars pulled my disbelief out of suspension for one last job. The dualities of the antagonists are also well delivered and what is creepier than a villain who really believes they just want what is best for you?
Thelma builds its momentum very subtly, but once it hits you, it will send you reeling. It is definitely on the short list for my favorite movie of this year.
I must warn you though, that it contains sequences which may be unsuitable for those with photosensitive epilepsy.
Directed by Colm McCarthy
I love a good zombie movie, especially when they're the fast kind of zombies, although I feel the genre has suffered a little bit, due to over-saturation in the wake of The Walking Dead TV-series' immense popularity.
Nevertheless, in that sea of mediocre flicks, this movie shines bright as a better narrative with a -as weird as that sounds- positive outlook on a near-extinction event such as zombie-plague. Of course it still features all the blood and gore and gross infection stuff every connoisseur has come to expect of it, but there's a feeling of hope and optimism in this one, which is largely to the credit of the phenomenal performance of lead protagonist Melanie, played by Sennia Nanua.
It otherwise offers some fresh new takes on the theme with a couple of the time-honored tropes intact, but even if it doesn't reinvent the wheel, it does give it a couple of new spins.
Another stand-out point for me was the very atmospheric cinematography. It was really well shot, with a somewhat crepuscular color palette which made the entire world of this movie feel jaundice and sickly. And the look and tone of it weren't the only appeal visually. Normally, zombie movies aren't the ones you immediately think of when you're talking about great monster design, but these guys really ain't your dad's zombies, with that kind of fungal feel they have going on. It really gives The Girl with all the Gifts that air of transformation and supports the strong narrative of the young woman of color becoming something new.
Coincidently this isn't the only zombie story I enjoyed this summer. I read Olivia Vieweg's graphic novel Endzeit a while ago and just like The Girl with all the Gifts, it had this underlying theme of nature taking back the earth from humanity's oppression.
I'm keeping it short and sweet, this is my list of recommendations for female-fronted films for now...
The only thing I have to say about all of these movies, is please have TRIGGER warnings. It is very easy to do and would prevent a lot of stress and possible medical events. Thank you :)
Have a great weekend and if you like me are getting ready for fall Happy Autumn Season to you let's get our hoodies and boots out!
Have you seen any of them or got a rec of your own for me? Let me know in the comments what you think of them and if you have any suggestions for themes to the Women in Horror Blog, just drop me a line.
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