2022 is a great year for women in horror, and the year’s best and most controversial horror movies have been led by female performances, Barbarian and Nope being two prime examples. Moreover, women are also present as directors in exciting films, such as Bodies Bodies Bodies and Nanny.
From gripping horror stories about women’s darkest desires to gory westerns, Letterboxd’s list of the highest-rated horror films directed by women offers a bit of everything, with choices from the film community that might even compel those who are not even in the genre.
Greedy (1999): Antonia Bird – 3.6/5
Set in the 19th century, the film follows Captain John Boyd and his regiment in a gruesome struggle for survival after being ambushed by a sadistic cannibal with mystical abilities.
Ravenous is the perfect mix of western and horror with gruesome scenes involving cannibalism and gory wounds, definitely a film not for the faint-hearted. The bold, bloody, creative style adds to one of the most engaging dark twists of the 90s and films such as Bone Tomahawk and Near Dark owe much to the western carnage of Antonia Bird, the first to treat the genre with so much ferocity.
The Long Walk (2019): Mattie Do – 3.6/5
The Long Walk is a Lao film and the fact that Letterboxd loves it makes it a great option for viewers who want to expand their global cinematic experience. The film mixes science fiction with spooky horror aspects when an old hermit discovers that the ghost of a traffic accident victim can transport him back 50 years, when the old man will have a chance to reconnect with his dying mother.
Slow-burning narrative adds to the cold, sensitive elements of a haunting ghost story. It’s the kind of film that asks the viewers themselves to pick up the pieces of the puzzle, which also makes The Long Walk a perfect film to rewatch several times and understand more each time, while giving viewers a captivating new cultural perspective. .
Celia (1989): Ann Turner – 3.6/5
Set in 1950s Australia, Celia could be split into two parts: day and night. During the day, young Celia tries to cope with the sudden death of her grandmother and the confusing world of adults. At night, Celia gives in to her wild imagination with dreams of evil creatures and strange happenings around her house.
Things start to get interesting when Celia’s fantasies begin to invade her sense of reality, bringing a chilling coming-of-age tale to life. Celia is one of the best movies set in Australia. in addition to being an effective horror film, it also provides interesting historical context about Australia in the 1950s from a woman’s perspective, but told through the eyes of a child still trying to figure it out the world.
Titanium (2021): Julia Ducournau – 3.6/5
Explaining Titanium is difficult, but watching it without looking away from the screen is even harder. The film features a relevant, yet controversial, body horror story involving all sorts of bizarre things, such as women getting pregnant in cars, identity theft, and titanium plates being placed in people’s heads.
Even with the brutal graphic cutscenes and hard-to-watch horror elements, Titanium is undeniably a beautiful story of love and trust, following two broken and desperate people who together finally find meaning in life. Though remembered as one of the most controversial films of 2021, Letterboxd’s score that even if audiences can’t stand Titane’s visceral approach, Ducournau’s metaphors of connection stick to the landing.
Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017): Issa López – 3.7/5
Using dark fantasy to expose the horrors of Mexico’s drug war, Tigers Are Not Afraid tells the story of a gang of five children who are forced to contemplate their inescapable reality and find a way to stay sane. spirit and alive as violence tears down the streets and real and imagined ghosts haunt the dark corners of their lives.
Urban landscapes and desperate children fighting for a lost cause are the central elements of this socially conscious horror. Both haunting and illuminating, the film uses magical realism to tell a story similar to the famous City of God, oddly co-led by a woman, in a much more bizarre and fantastical way.
Raw (2016): Julia Ducournau – 3.7/5
Julia Ducornau’s feature debut, Raw, was as controversial as her next film, Titanium, leaving a positive impression on horror fans and making her an exciting new director to watch.
Half a coming-of-age movie and half a gruesome cannibal story, Raw follows Justine, a young girl who develops an insatiable desire for human flesh after eating raw meat for the first time in a college prank. The French horror film is an effective allegory of how society has a tradition of undermining the deepest and most sincere desires of women, told in a bloody and unconventional way.
The Other Side of Below (1972): Jane Arden – 3.7/5
Letterboxd’s high score of The Other Side Of The Underneath reflects the film’s compelling choice to treat a delicate and complex condition such as schizophrenia in a surreal, almost experimental atmosphere of terror and mistrust.
The film is a true hidden gem but is currently available to stream on Shudder. It depicts a violent descent into the minds of a group of women during a therapy session, bound together by a common mental state represented by disturbing visions and examples of horror. Many of Arden’s insecurities and worries carry over into The Other Side Of The Underneath as well, making it the perfect film to step into the obscure director.
A Girl Comes Home Alone at Night (2014): Ana Lily Amirpour – 3.7/5
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is one of the best unconventional vampire films, discarding the traditional vampire formula in favor of a spooky atmosphere that aims to bring viewers into the shows of the bloodthirsty creature. Set in a fictional Iranian ghost town called Bad City, the girl roams the empty streets hunting down unsuspecting men and preying on bad guys.
The black-and-white cinematography added to the film’s calm and hazy approach provides an immersive experience about what looks like a vampire, exploring human needs and worries such as love and loneliness. Vampires are often portrayed as towering and seductive male figures whereas here, from Amirpour’s perspective, she uses a shrewd approach to deconstructing female innocence with the psychology of a female vampire.
Helter Skelter (2012): Mika Ninagawa – 3.8/5
Clearly inspired by Satoshi Kon’s masterpieces such as Perfect Blue and Paprika, the film follows a pop star, Lilico, who is obsessed with undergoing cosmetic surgery on her entire body. Leading to relevant social commentary on the dangers of obsessing over perfection, Helter Skelter turns into a disturbing horror movie when Lilico’s surgeries begin to show hard-hitting side effects.
Helter Skelter could be an interesting body horror, but it doesn’t take easy directions. Instead, the film is much more about covering the body, taking advantage of visually arresting costumes and exuberant set designs to convey its message and fuel a slow-burning horror story that reaches its point of no return in violent fashion. .
American Psycho (2000): Mary Harron – 3.9/5
Director Mary Harron is probably happy to see the wave of viral memes poking fun at Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman and his idiosyncratic lifestyle.
In 2000, American Psycho was misunderstood as another weird take on psychopathy and just a psychosexual drama about the desire to kill. It turns out the film is much more about the toxic masculinity and offbeat fantasies that capitalism makes people dream of. Aging like wine, American Psycho remains one of the finest horror satires of its time, and Letterboxd honors the feat.