Scary Sisters: New horror directed by women

Laura looks at the current batch of lady horror filmmakers and the terrifying films they are bringing fans!

Genre films have always had a little more wriggle room for creators otherwise excluded from the mainstream… which is maybe one of the reasons women have a slightly higher representation as directors here than they have in big studio projects. 

In recent years directors like Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) and Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night ) have put women horror directors in the news in a way they have never been before.  So who are the new horror ladies on the scene I am most excited about?

Roxanne Benjamin


Roxanne Benjamin is definitely a director on my ‘ones to keep an eye on’ list.  After producing and co-producing films like the V.H.S. series and Devil’s Candy, she made her directorial debut by contributing to the intriguing sort-of anthology movie Southbound (2015). 

She was then one of the five women who contributed to the horror anthology XX (2017) .  Her segment ‘Don’t Fall‘ involved curses and camping grounds and definitely delivered the scares.  XX is very solid anthology that delivers some spooky storytelling in delightfully different settings. 

Benjamin’s latest film, Body at Brighton Rock is currently in production and is set to provide more out-of-the-way scares as it features a park ranger guarding what could be a crime scene on a remote mountain trail.  I can’t wait!

XX can be found on Netflix,  The V.H.S. series of films and The Devil’s Candy are available on iTunes.

Julia Ducournau


Julia Ducournau made her feature directorial debut with Raw (2016), which won her the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes Film Festival and garnered her plenty of attention as a perspective on the horror scene. 

The film follows the sheltered and decidedly vegetarian Justine as she enters into the chaotic and sensorialy overloaded environment of veterinarian school orientation, something which involves some decidedly carnivorous hazing rites, and something with which her older sister seems surprisingly au fait.

Raw is available on iTunes.

Leigh Janiak


Leigh Janiak’s first feature film Honeymoon (2014) is a salutary lesson in what can be achieved with a good idea and a good eye even if the budget is not on the large side.  It asks the creepy questions “what if you don’t know the person you’re in love with?” and “what if that person is a monster?”.

The film proved her directing mettle so satisfactorily that she is now super busy developing projects for Sony and 20th Century Fox including a sequel to the 1996 witchy classic The Craft (oh my god I know– I am so excited too!!) and three, count them three adaptations of the R. L. Stine Fear Street books.  Did I mention how excited I am about The Craft sequel?

Honeymoon is available on Netflix.

Karyn Kusama


Karyn Kusama is responsible for one of my favourite creepy films of recent years–  The Invitation (2015).  If the social dynamics of new partners, old friends, at a dinner hosted by your ex in your old home isn’t frightening enough throw in some California-style religious recruitment and a slow ratcheting of the creep factor and you will soon be deliciously unnerved by this beautiful and disturbing film. 

Her segment in XXHer Only Living Son‘ (2017) is similarly spooky tale of motherhood.  Also check out the (in my opinion underrated) Jennifer’s Body from 2009 which features Megan Fox as a demon possessed succubus working her way through the males of her high school.  

Jennifer’s Body and The Invitation are both available on Netflix.

Agnieszka Smoczynska

Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska is on this list even though I have not seen any of her films because the clips I have seen have been disgustingly enticing and because the woman made a goddamn musical-comedy-horror-mermaid film.  The Lure (2015), as far as I can tell, is about some mermaid sisters who become sort of cabaret/club singers, but jeopardise their careers by continuing to do what mermaids do– which is kill men. 

 She also has a segment in the upcoming The Field Guide to Evil (2018) which recently screened at SXSW and looks super-fantastic.

If anybody knows how I can watch this film and would like to tell me I would very much appreciate it!

Jovanka Vuckovic


Jovanka Vuckovic made three short films before providing the anthology film XX (2017) with her segment ‘The Box‘.  Based on the Jack Ketchum story of the same name it is for me the stand out piece of the anthology– a terrifying story where nothing is seen or even suggested but which will haunt you long after.   

She has a feature film of her own– Riot Girls— in post-production which is a post-apocalyptic thriller set in an alternate 1995, and which I am seriously hyped for.

riot girls

Veronika Franz

In Goodnight Mommy (2014) twin boys move to a new house with their mother, whose face is covered after undergoing surgery.  The only thing is– the boys aren’t sure they recognise the woman  under the bandages. 

Goodnight Mommy is that rare film– both thoughtful and visceral (yes– some viewers did faint in screenings).  Veronika Franz is one half of a creative partnership with Severin Fiala and their blending of high and low brow filmmaking norms make for an intensely satisfying horror experience.  They also have a ‘chapter’ in A Field Guide to Evil (2018), and another feature film, The Lodge,  in post-production.

See a clip from A Field Guide To Evil here

Goodnight Mommy is available on DVD and Blu-Ray

Tell me, what lady-led horror are you most excited about?  What have you seen? What are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!




2 thoughts on “Scary Sisters: New horror directed by women

  1. This was great, lots of new titles for me to hunt down! I bought Raw on Blu-Ray recently, so looking forward to watching that… and if you find out how to watch ‘The Lure’ let me know!! It played at the film festival but, alas, I missed it.

    Also, Jennifer’s Body is definitely underrated 🙂


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