Beyond empowertainment: feminist horror and the struggle for agency
Discover some of the best female-centred horror films of the decade and how they’re pushing the genre forward.
Why we wrote the book
About Feminist Horror
In the last few decades, there has been a shift towards a new kind of feminism in horror: increasingly, films tell stories about women’s internal conflicts within oppressive systems, rather than depicting their physical struggles to fight the patriarchy. These new films complicate the simplistic, vicarious satisfaction we experience when watching female ’empowertainment’ stories. They force us to confront the reality that, even when women assume positions of power, oppressive systems persist.
In this collection of essays and interviews, we explore stellar films like Unsane, Raw, Personal Shopper, and Thelma, which take a female protagonist’s inner-struggle as their primary subjects. Through interviews with the filmmakers, we investigate how ‘feminist’ horror is changing, and, in our long-form essays, we draw connections between the feminist approaches across these movies. In these films, horror is what consumes women when they lose control.
Watch the book trailer
Discover what’s inside the book and what the horror films we’ve chosen have in common.
What you’ll discover and learn
Explore how women’s internal struggles are becoming the subject of horror films in multiple sub-genres.
Our feminist horror book covers four parts
Part One: Revenge horror
Discover two great recent additions to the revenge canon, Revenge and Prevenge, both directed by and about women, through interviews with the directors.
Part Two: Madness in Horror ( + Case Study on Unsane)
Discover new approaches to telling stories of the monstrous feminine in contemporary horror.
Dive deep into Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane, a horror film that externalizes what it’s like to live under patriarchy, including when everyone thinks women are crazy. Through multiple essays on the film and interviews with the film’s production designer and costume designer, you’ll learn all about why this is one of the great horror films of the decade.
Part Three: Technology horror (+ Case Study on Personal Shopper)
We all live in our phones these days, and these films — Cam and Personal Shopper — explore the horrifying effects of being so tapped into technology. Our exploration of Personal Shopper includes a look at how text messages are used to create tension and an essay on how Kristen Stewart’s performance carries the film. Also, read an interview with director Olivier Assayas on filming the text messages, and an essay on technology and depression in the film.
Part Four: Coming-of-age horror (+ Case Study on Julia Ducournau’s Raw)
Discover three great coming-of-age stories. Quebec’s The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches explores gender roles and tells the story of a young girl fighting the patriarchy — in this case, her abusive father and brother. Joachim Trier’s Thelma goes beyond just a fight against patriarchy to explore Thelma’s internal conflict to come to terms with and control her darkest urges.
In Raw, Ducournau’s cannibalism film drops us into a female-centred world to explore relationships between women and women’s internal struggles to control their bodies. It’s a case study in where we hope horror will be going, featuring multiple complex female characters whose conflicts go beyond fighting patriarchy.
Films explored in the book include:
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Read excerpts from the book, including in-depth analyses of our favourite feminist horror films and interviews with their directors.
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The ebook is available as an ePub and PDF, which are readable on all tablets, smart phones, and eReaders.