The contributions of female directors to the horror canon often go under-appreciated. Female directors have brought us some of the most groundbreaking and influential horror movies of all time, including Near Dark, American Psycho, Pet Sematary and Carrie.
But where should we expect the next round of female-helmed horror masterworks to come from? Here is our pick for the 6 female directors likely to leave the biggest impressions in the genre landscape.
1. Karyn Kusama
After the failure of her big-budget feature Aeon flux (2005), some might have thought that Kusama was out for the count. More than happy to defy these expectations, Kusama bounced back with Jennifer’s Body (2009), a smart, dark comedy-horror that owed more than a little to Ginger Snaps (2000). It was an overlooked effort at first, enjoying a quiet success that has since grown over time.
With the triumph of The Invitation (2015), a tense thriller about the dinner party from hell, Kusama cemented her reputation as a horror mainstay. Her next film, Destroyer, will be be a gritty crime drama set in LA.
2. Jennifer Kent
Few horror fans will forget the seismic rumblings that surrounded The Babadook in 2014 as it toured festival after festival, amassing a dedicated following. Jennifer Kent’s first feature-length picture rewrote the rules of the possession and haunted house genres, while presenting audiences with a sharply witty ode to early silent horror.
For her next outing, The Nightingale, Kent will be serving up a healthy dose of vengeance. Set in Tasmania in 1825, it tells the story of a woman who hires an aboriginal tracker to hunt down the gang that slaughtered her family. Be sure to catch it when it reaches theatres in August 2018.
3. The Soska Sisters
Jen and Silvia Soska, more commonly known as the Soska Sisters, have been staples of the cult horror circuit for some time. They came onto the scene with a DIY love-letter to grind-house cinema in Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009), a $2,500 movie that caught the attention of Eli Roth. American Mary followed in 2012, a hugely successful shocker about a medical student who practices underground surgeries.
For their next movie the twisted twins will be tackling a remake of Cronenberg’s 1977 film Rabid. A girl who needs emergency plastic surgery after a motorcycle crash find herself with sudden, unconquerable desire to consume human blood. It’s a similar combination of gore and outlandish medical horror as their most popular film, so the pair are sure to be in familiar territory.
4. Jovanka Vuckovic
Before directing The Box segment of all-female horror anthology XX (2017), Vuckovic was best known to the horror community as the 6-year Editor in Chief of Rue Morgue magazine. Her upcoming feature Riot Girls, now in post-production, is described as “a post-apocalyptic queer romance survivalist story”.
It depicts a future where teenagers battle for control of urban wastelands after the deaths of their parents, lost to a mysterious disease. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that it’s also going to have an awesome soundtrack.
5. Ana Lily Amirpour
Amirpour wowed committed horror fans and regular film fanatics alike with her feature debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a black and white Farsi vampire film that mixed biting social commentary and just plain biting. Combining horror, revenge and arthouse stylings, it was truly a standout movie for 2014.
Her follow-up, The Bad Batch (2016), was a psychedelic cannibal western with shades of Mad Max. Although Amirpour claims to have little interest in modern horror, her previous work has combined genre tropes to fascinating effect, and we hope that her as yet undisclosed future projects will continue in this vein.
6. Julia Ducournau
Ever since she stumbled across The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a child, Ducournau has been fascinated with the human body and its goriest representations on screen. It’s been an obsession encouraged by her parents, both avid film fans and doctors.
Raw (2016), a film that garnered rave reviews as well as several reports of audience members fainting during screenings, presented a new angle on cannibal tropes. A vegetarian student protagonist, forced to eat meat during a hazing ritual, develops a sexualised hunger for raw meat. It’s an uncomfortable watch to say the least, but aims to evoke sympathy for its central character and not merely disgust, which elevates it above the majority of cannibal-centric fare.