Women in Horror Month: 9 Essential Horror Films Directed by Women

Happy Women in Horror Month! As I’m sure many others would agree, the horror genre can often feel incredibly male-dominated. Violence against women within these films is usually prominent, and in a world obsessed with inflicting this same violence in reality, being able to reclaim such a powerful tool as the horror movie is a very great thing. Besides which, this is a genre which naturally links itself to feminist thought. Traditional aspects of horror such as vampire lore, the final girl, slasher film tropes and the revenge plot all revolve around feminist themes, and it is not surprising that much academic discussion in this area concerns gender. In any case, after watching as many female-directed examples as I can find, I’ve firmly decided that women make the best horror movies. Take a look at the nine films below, and I’m sure you’ll agree.

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014), dir. Ana Lily Amirpour

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Sheila Vand in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014). © Kino Lorber

Dark, stylish and atmospheric, ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ is the Iranian vampire Western we never knew we needed. A sparse narrative cloaked in monochromatic tones illustrates themes of gendered violence, as the eponymous Girl hunts down villainous men. Vampire movies and feminist discourse have always gone hand in hand – the symbolic neck bite forming a transferal of agency – and Amirpour exploits this natural kinship whilst adding her own original mark to the genre. For ‘A Girl’ is a quiet, brooding movie, moving from character to character at a pace that some may find too sluggish. But this hesitance to over-embellish in a field that can so often be flamboyant is what gives the film its strength; the small moments form something so much greater, and it is the overall mood of the piece, rather than one scene or another, that marks it as a classic for feminist horror.

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Valentine’s Day Suggestions from the Much Ado Team!

Love it or hate it, the best thing about Valentine’s Day is always the movies. From arthouse drama to cheesy rom-coms to depressing tear-jerkers, we all have our favourite kinds of romance film. There’s a wide variety of faves even amongst the Much Ado team, so hopefully our recommendation list will give you a new idea or two this February 14th!

(500) Days of Summer

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Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer (2009). © Fox Searchlight Pictures

Why conform to watching a traditional romantic comedy this Valentine’s Day? Why submit to Hollywood’s saccharine nature and settle down with a formulaic feature when you could instead confront the heartache that comes with unrequited love and the realisation that no person is ever really what you imagine them to be? If you’re looking for a bit of realism in your romance, then 500 Days of Summer is the film for you. Its central theme can be summed up in one line delivered by a young Chloë Grace Moretz’s character, the younger sister of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s hopeless protagonist Tom, as she tells him that ‘just because some girl is into the same bizzaro crap as you, that doesn’t mean she’s your soulmate.’ Truer words were never spoken, indeed. There is no doubt that every one of us is at least somewhat guilty of convincing ourselves that someone is the one for us simply because they share a few of our interests. What 500 Days of Summer does is show just how problematic this kind of thinking is and how disastrous it can be for us in the long run, by having Tom break his own heart in attempting to believe that the titular Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the person he has made her out to be in his head. Summer may like the same music as Tom, she may enjoy the same kind of cinema as he does, but that doesn’t mean that the two are made for each other, or that they are even remotely compatible. Reality can never truly match our expectations, 500 Days of Summer reminds us, and people are not ours to mould into whatever we want them to be. It is the perfect antidote to the onslaught of Nicholas Spark’s adaptations that infiltrate cinemas around this time of year and shows us that love is, often, not what we believe it to be.

– Hannah Ryan

 

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Much Ado About Cinema is looking for new writers!

As many of you will know, Much Ado has grown exponentially over the past couple of months, and we’re now seeking to make our output even greater and more diverse than ever before! To do this, we need more people on board – and that’s where you guys come in.

We are now opening applications to join our team of regular writers. Ultimately, we’re looking for people who are dedicated to the same goals as we are, people who truly adore all types of cinema, and people who will thrive in a close-knit, supportive group. You do not need to have a wealth of experience – though it’s great if you do – nor do you need a million qualifications. To join us, we only ask for dedication, raw talent, and a fairly stable internet connection.

In return, we can offer the chance to get your work out there to a rapidly expanding audience. We can also provide feedback from a group of experienced writers, and the opportunity to work within a team that cares about nurturing your skills as a journalist. The Much Ado team doesn’t really have a hierarchy – at the end of the day, we’re just a group of film nerds that help each other out. I’m proud to say that we’re a friendly bunch, and I hope that our future new team members will agree with this judgement!

We especially encourage people of colour, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, working class people, disabled people, ethnic minorities, and any other such oppressed group to apply. Though all applications will be considered on their own merit, we are particularly invested in providing a space for those voices that may be overlooked due to industry prejudice.

The application form can be found here. If you have any issues filling out the form, please contact muchadoaboutcinema@gmail.com. Applications will close on the 23rd February. Please note that this is an unpaid role – though we would love to pay our writers, the site is not monetised.

Good luck, and thank you so much for reading Much Ado!

 

 

Female Director Spotlight: Ava DuVernay’s Social Impact

When considering the work of female filmmakers, Ava DuVernay is a name that stands out in the minds of many. Her achievements are overwhelming; she is the first African-American woman to win the Best Director prize at Sundance, the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe, and the first black female director to have a film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. She has Emmys, Black Reel Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and countless nominations under her belt. In 2018, her film ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ will make Ava DuVernay the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million.

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Photo by Charley Gallay – © 2015 Getty Images

In many ways, these facts are shocking – DuVernay should not have had to be the first to lay claim to these achievements. Regardless, her filmography paints a picture of true passion for the moving image. From short films to television specials, documentaries to biographical films, there doesn’t seem to be much that the filmmaker won’t try her hand at. As a director, writer, producer, marketer, and distributor, DuVernay is also involved in every level of the process – occasionally even making appearances in front of the camera (‘This is the Life (2008)’). The variety of her work represents not only an ability to adapt to various genres, but also the method by which she rose to fame. DuVernay did not go to film school, and instead practised her craft through lower-budget documentary filmmaking.

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The Future is Bright (And Gay): 8 LGBTQ+ Films to Look Out For in 2018

2017 was a fantastic year for LGBTQ+ cinema. From ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to ‘A Fantastic Woman’ to ‘Battle of the Sexes’ to ‘120 BPM’, both mainstream and independent films proved that the industry is developing rapidly in terms of its approach to sexuality and gender. 2018 looks set to continue this, with a number of upcoming films featuring LGBTQ+ themes. Though we’ll have to wait and see if this year can improve on the last, the future looks bright (and rainbow) if the following films are anything to go by.

Please note that reviews linked to in this thread may contain spoilers. 

 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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Chloë Grace Moretz, Forrest Goodluck, and Sasha Lane in The Miseducation of Cameron Post. © Sundance Institute

Director: Desiree Akhavan

Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Jennifer Ehle, John Gallagher Jr., Forrest Goodluck

Release Date: 22nd January 2018 (Sundance Film Festival)

Premise: One of quite a few conversion therapy films this year, ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ tells the story of a young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) who, after being caught with the prom queen, is sent to a “de-gaying” camp by her conservative family. Though things will become much more clear after the film’s imminent Sundance debut, at the moment hopes are high – director Desiree Akhavan’s previous work includes the much treasured ‘Appropriate Behaviour’. The cast is also promising, with ‘American Honey’ breakout star Sasha Lane in her second cinematic appearance, and the always trustworthy Jennifer Ehle co-starring.

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Black Mirror Review: ‘Metalhead’ – The Technophobe’s True Nightmare

This review contains spoilers for Black Mirror Season 4 Episode 5: Metalhead.

 

When commencing the annual black mirror binge-watch, I noticed one thing – social media had already very much made up their minds over the runaway favourite of the season (‘Hang the DJ’, this year’s ‘San Junipero’), and the relative dud. That dud, based on popularity, is most likely ‘Metalhead’; not only does the episode appear dead last on many people’s personal lists, but I’ve even seen recommendations to skip it altogether.

As I’ve now watched the series through, the very first thing I would say is this: please do not skip such a brilliant example of filmmaking. Partly because I don’t believe there is reason to skip an episode purely based on its popularity in the eyes of others, but also because ‘Metalhead’ is just so damn good.

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Female Director Spotlight: Mia Hansen-Løve’s Detailed Portraits of Familial Strife

This month, I wanted to choose a director whose work I had little familiarity with, so that I too would get to experience their filmography for the first time. A few recommendations later (thanks Iana!) and I settled on Mia Hansen-Løve, a French filmmaker whose work I had always intended to get around to watching, but never really did – until now. Hansen-Løve’s films have received widespread critical acclaim, in particular, ‘Things to Come’ in 2016, which stars Isabelle Huppert and won the Silver Bear at Berlinale. Her work has been lauded for its muted and empathetic observations on everyday life, a variety of character and attention to human detail, and the slow artistry of her camera. Sure, her films may not be for everyone; they epitomise the leisurely French drama, concerned with intricate relationships, difficult emotions, and the impact of time. For the right viewer, however, Hansen-Løve’s filmography is a luxurious exhibition of real life, and an experience that I would highly recommend.

 

Fathers and Daughters: ‘All is Forgiven’ (2007) and ‘Father of My Children’ (2009)

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Chiara Caselli, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Manelle Driss, and Alice Gautier in ‘Father of My Children’. © 2009 Les Films du Losange

First features can often be necessary stumbling blocks for filmmakers. In Hansen-Løve’s case, however, her first two films, which both focus on familial difficulties, immediately landed on their feet, contributing an assured, refined start to her career and easily holding up against her later works.

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