Programmed by Hasti Soltani
What does it mean for a movie to be feminist? Women in horror films are traditionally objectified victims or villains, final girls or feminine monstrosities. Because these tropes are so deeply entrenched in the horror genre, when a film breaks from them, it can be used as an effective social critique. This series aims to showcase a collection of films that subvert these classic horror tropes to show what films can do from a different perspective, speaking to various social and gender issues, from unattainable beauty standards, to mental illness, to coming of age and burgeoning sexuality, to maternal relationships. Many of the films have female writers and directors, though others were written and directed by men, begging the question: Can a movie directed by a man be feminist? (Keeping in mind that you don't have to be a woman to be a feminist.) The series also aims to present films from different countries, asking: What does feminist horror look like around the world? Even while thinking about diversity and inclusion when programming this series, there are gaps. Feminism is not always inclusive of all women, and that extends to this series. With one exception, all of the female protagonists in the films are white, and almost all of them are straight and cisgender. More than a survey of feminist horror, this series aims to start a conversation about female representation in the genre as a whole, and the "feminist" label is a debatable one. So, what does it mean for a movie to be feminist?
(Brian de Palma, 1976) · Raised by her overbearing and controlling mother and mercilessly bullied by girls at her school, Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a sexually repressed social outcast. She starts to come into her own when she begins developing telekinetic powers and accepts a fateful date to the prom. Drenched in memorable imagery, Carrie shows the evolution of a young girl from a sensitive introvert into a powerful and vengeful young woman.
runtime: 98m format: 35mm
(Julia Ducournau, 2016) · Gory, stylish, and gruff, writer-director Julia Ducournau's Raw follows Justine's transformation from strict vegetarian to voracious carnivore. Forced to take part in a hazing ritual for new students after starting veterinary school, Justine tries raw meat for the first time and begins to develop a taste for flesh. Visually stunning, female-focused, erotic, and graphically violent, this disturbing take on the coming-of-age film checks all the boxes.
runtime: 99m format: DCP
(Dario Argento, 1977) · Bright colors, violent deaths, and an iconic score are just a few of the reasons why the cult classic Suspiria has inspired legions of feverish devotees. When sweet, innocent Suzy arrives at an elite ballet school as a new student, she sees a delirious girl fleeing, an omen of the horrors to come. Soon after, the girl is found murdered. As the deaths pile up, Suzy begins to suspect something sinister is lurking behind the pink walls of the school.
runtime: 98m format: DCP
(John Fawcet, 2000) · Ginger and her sister Brigitte are young, edgy, and obsessed with death. Their boring suburban town has recently become the scene of multiple dog killings, and when, on the night of her first period, Ginger is bitten by a mysterious creature connected to the dog killings, her body begins a transformation. Using Ginger's supernatural transformation as a metaphor for puberty, Ginger Snaps explores what it means to grow up as a teenage girl.
runtime: 108m format: 35mm
(Alice Lowe, 2016) · Ruth is pregnant when she loses her husband to a climbing accident. Believing that she is controlled by her unborn fetus who whispers monstrous thoughts to her, she begins a homicidal rampage, attempting to exact revenge on all the people involved in her husband's accident. Written by, directed by, and starring an actually-pregnant Alice Lowe, black comedy/slasher Prevenge takes the idea of the invasiveness of pregnancy and makes it murderous.
runtime: 92m format: DCP
(Jennifer Kent, 2014) · After the death of her husband, widow Amelia Vanek is left to raise her son Sam all by herself. Sam becomes increasingly violent and difficult, until one fateful night he asks to be read the story of the Babadook. The storybook character comes to life as a sinister, monstrous presence, haunting the family with its terrors. Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook ruminates on single motherhood and the insidious nature of depression.
runtime: 95m format: DCP
(Sam Raimi, 2009) · Written and directed by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spiderman), Drag Me to Hell is a horror comedy that follows Christine, a bank employee uneasy about both her job and her relationship with her boyfriend. In an attempt to impress her boss by making a tough decision, Christine denies an old woman a loan extension, effectively evicting her. In response, the old woman places a curse on Christine, damning her soul to hell after three days of torture.
runtime: 99m format: DCP
(Guillem Morales, 2010) · After her blind sister, Sara, hangs herself in the basement of her house, Julia begins to suspect that she was murdered. Fighting through her own deteriorating eyesight, brought on by a degenerative eye disease, she retraces her sister's steps to figure out what happened. Throughout her amateur investigation, Julia feels a sinister presence following her, and deaths and unsettling events happen around her as she tries to piece it all together.
runtime: 112m format: Digital
(Babak Anvari, 2016) · When a missile hits Shideh's building, her superstitious neighbor thinks it is a vessel for sinister spirits. Shideh begins to suspect that these spirits are trying to possess her young daughter, whom she is left to raise alone while her husband is off at war. Set in 1980's Tehran in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War, and made almost 30 years after the war's end, Under the Shadow exposes the lasting cultural impact of this historic trauma.
runtime: 84m format: DCP
(Robert Zemeckis, 1992) · The unrealistic standard of everlasting beauty to which women are subjected is at the center of this campy horror film. When Helen's (Goldie Hawn) fiancé leaves her for her friend Madeline (Meryl Streep), she ends up in a mental hospital. Years later, she reemerges at a party looking radiant and youthful. Jealous of her rival's beauty, Madeline seeks out the same magic potion that gave Helen eternal life, only to be faced with the consequences of immortality.
runtime: 104m format: DCP