In honour of celebrating Women in Horror this month and in recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we decided to change the narrative. We are putting the spotlight on some of the darker sides of women in film and, in true Squid style, showcasing a handful of ferocious females from all walks of life, smashing the perception that women are damned to be the fairer sex.
Katie (Paranormal Activity)
Found footage franchise Paranormal Activity made waves in 2009 when it terrified audiences on a global scale. The story follows Katie, an English major student living with her partner Mika on a quintessential suburban street… but the couple are not alone. As the story on unfolds, it becomes clear that the forces stalking Katie will stop at nothing to claim what they think is rightfully theirs and has been for generations. Abandoned by priests, exorcists and friends, Katie and Mika eventually take matters into their own hands. The five-part film series gets more and more complex and dark as it goes on. In case you haven’t seen the movies yet, we won’t give too much away – but let’s just say that Katie’s path is not one you want to cross, as her sister and niece find out the hard way. This is one family tradition we think everyone could do without.
’90s horror sci-fi Species landed in our laps in 1995 and has arguably aged better some other B-grade flicks we’ve seen. It follows Sil, a half alien, half human hybrid, who escapes her scientist captors and runs rampage round Los Angeles, desperate for a mate. We know what you’re thinking – here we go again, another film that depicts women in the gloomy light of needing a man to fulfil her destiny. But whilst this narrative is all too familiar in many films, we feel this one may have a slight edge. Sil craves human flesh, and in order to survive she must mate with a man for procreation purposes, leaving the fate of the humanity resting solely on her creators finding her before it’s too late. The alternative? Oh, just the downfall of the entire human race, should Dil be successful in her pursuit to procreate. It’s safe to say that Species is not your average love story.
Lilith (Case 39)
Case 39 is an experience that made us question our own morals. Children dying in films is a prominent taboo, and is one that few horror films break. However, this film turns that plot armour on its head, leaving the audience gripped, and praying the little wench meets her fate! This sinister cinematic piece might be enough to deter you from doing a good deed ever again. Renée Zellweger stars as social worker Emily, who is called out to a domestic disturbance involving the child. After allowing her emotions to cloud her judgement, she rescues Lilith and allows her to seek solace in her own home. It’s not long before the bodies of Emily’s nearest and dearest start piling up and the terror unfolds. The child’s possessive rage and unlimited power begin to destroy Emily’s life as she realises the horrifying truth and truly regrets taking her work home with her.
Adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, Rob Reiner’s 1991 production of Misery sees horror matron Kathy Bates as the infamous psycho Annie Wilkes. We follow the terrifying tale as the kidnapper’s bizarre idea of a “meet and greet” with her favourite novelist Paul Sheldon (played by James Caan) unfolds. Abducting and disabling the novelist, Annie torments her victim through psychological pressure and brutal violence. She consistently creates a level of suspense that leaves viewers on the edges of their seats. Fans will always be left wincing when recalling that one iconic scene, which brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “hammer time”. Bates is an incredible actress with a robust attitude, beating the renowned ageism in Hollywood and leaving a legacy that has been hard to follow.
Jennifer (Jennifer’s Body)
Directed by Karyn Kusama and starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer’s Body is a typical teenage flick. It surrounds two very different best friends leading their day-to-day lives, hanging out at school… and occasionally ripping out the jugulars of unsuspecting boys. Possessed by a demon and consequently transformed into a succubus with a desire for human flesh, Jennifer is on a rampage, and her male classmates are the ones most at risk. Her best friend Needy must find a way to put a stop to Jennifer’s killing spree before it’s too late. We’re not sure if turning someone into a “lasagne with teeth” is classed as an extracurricular activity, but Jennifer does make a good point when she says “I’m not killing people, I’m killing boys”– a quote many teenage girls may have resonated with.
Robert Stromberg’s 2014 film Maleficent (and its aptly named 2019 sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) is a champion for the broken-hearted and a visually stunning adaptation of Disney’s classic 1959 Sleeping Beauty. We follow the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villainess, brutally betrayed by the man she loved, as he steals her wings for his own empowerment. His cruel acts turn the once angelic Maleficent, played by Angela Jolie, to the dark side. In a siege of unforgiving vengeance, we see her curse the man’s infant, who just so happens to be the King, and his newborn Princess, Aurora. However, as the story progresses, Maleficent proves to be the anti-hero we were hoping for, and we can’t help but root for this twisted character.