Isabelle Huppert can do anything. And she frequently does. In the past 40+ years she’s acted in over a hundred films in all genres from musical to quirky comedies to WWII era dramas. She’s committed to challenging herself in bold, new ways, continually delivering fierce, complex, and unforgettable performances in roles most actors would be nervous to approach. But perhaps her greatest skill is her withering judgmental stare.
February marks the beginning of Women In Horror Month, an event created to celebrate the amazing women working in the genre, from directors and producer to the iconic scream queens. Despite what certain horror producers may think, there are a plethora of talented and demented women creating diabolically poignant pieces of horror cinema. In a genre that is so often described as misogynistic and exploitative, it can seem easy to dismiss it and not address its long history of interrogating societal fears. But, women have been working against, and sometimes with, those conventions just as long as any man.
To help you celebrate all month long, we’ve compiled a list of 10 horror films directed by women to put on your watch list. But don’t confine your honoring of women in horror to just February; they deserve your attention and support all year long.
American Psycho, dir. Mary Harron
Everything superficial about American Psycho appeals to the kind of masculine, wide-eyed, dorm room energy of boys of a certain age—its sleek quotability, retro aesthetic, sardonic wit, and extreme violence are all, well, pure Bret Easton Ellis, literature’s resident teenage boy. And while Ellis may have crafted his tale of a absurd Wall Street serial killer with his own anger and transgressive style in mind, director Mary Harron grants her film adaptation of the novel with a entirely different, yet no less fascinating lens through which to view the world of Patrick Bateman. And who better to craft a killer of women than a woman herself?
American Psycho might be funny—scratch that, it’s hilarious—but the horror grows with each passing frame, building in Bateman’s victims on screen, building in us, and building in the character himself as reality starts to slip away. The film’s germane, eerie satire of American capitalism and wealth only deepen some truly terrifying sequences of murder and mutilation that speak to the horrors of misogyny and power. Yet so much of that depth owes itself to Harron’s camera, which doesn’t linger on these women’s bodies and ask us to revel in their destruction, but rather remains tight on Christian Bale’s face, clothes, hands—the apathetic instruments of a society that values nothing but money.
Okay, this is starting to sound like more dorm room analysis, but it only takes one good watch to enthralled by this movie for a lifetime. Come for the controversy, stay for the cultural commentary, and return time after time for “I have to return some video tapes.”
2018 has finally come to an end. Despite the political hellfire it raged for its 365-day duration, 2018 brought us films like Shoplifters, Roma, Cold War, The Rider, and Revenge (you can check out all of our favorites of 2018 here). It was a year for badass women on screen. It was a year for horses. But, it was also a year that brought us disappointments and tragedies, such as Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody, who both won Golden Globes.
Despite that tragedy, 2019 still holds a treasure trove of cinema, from Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Star Wars: Episode IX to High Life and Jojo Rabbit. Jordan Peele is releasing another horror movie, Edward Cullen is going to space, Isabelle Huppert is going to try and kidnap Chloe Grace Moretz. That’s just a taste of what this year will bring to the big (and sometimes small) screens.
Without further ado, here are our most anticipated films of 2019.
2018 has been a wild year for film, from wildly entertaining sequels (see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Paddington 2) to Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest in dry, yet tragic, humor to a horror film featuring tongue clicking, a nut allergy, and dead pigeons. It has been year for powerful women, both in front of and behind the camera, from the women of Annihilation to Crystal Moselle and her look into the world of women skateboarders. It has been a year to interrogate representations of masculinity, from Joe in You Were Never Really Here to Reverend Toller in First Reformed. It has been a year of terror, love, laughter, and exhaustion, both literally and cinematically. The films of 2018 truly captured the strange and turbulent atmosphere that has thrown us all into a state of near-constant anxiety.
The Much Ado team has relished in this anxiety, seeing many of 2018’s best, and worst films with the help of film festivals such as Cannes, NYFF, and BFI, MoviePass (RIP), and AMC Stubs A-List. After much deliberation, Letterboxd rankings, and last-minute trips to the cinema, we present Much Ado’s top 25 films of the year.
The 62nd BFI London Film Festival ended just under a week ago, but many films from the festival’s expansive lineup are still lingering on our minds. We loved the buzz-worthy titles including The Favourite, Beautiful Boy and Rafiki, but we also caught a few gems hidden in the mix. Iana and Megan make their picks from the lesser known films from the festival.
Like the rest of the Internet, we here at Much Ado About Cinema are mourning the tragic loss of streaming service FilmStruck. Yesterday morning, Warner Bros. gave the beloved site a terminal diagnosis, with the plug officially being pulled on November 29. This means we only have about a month to cram as many Criterions into our cinephilic eyeballs as possible.
Since November 2016, there has been this swirling pit of rage that permanently resides in the center of my heart, nestled just below the aortic arch. Sometimes it is quiet, like the beach at low tide in the middle of the night, gently ebbing and licking the sand. On days like today, when a sexual abuser is appointed to the highest level of justice, it is an electric maelstrom. More inflamed and unyielding than the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Stay out of my way; I’m out for blood.
But many other women have written more eloquently about this topic than I could ever hope to, so I will let cinema speak for me. Here are seven films of varying genres (most written or directed by women) that deftly provoke rage against our broken system while simultaneously inspiring that passion for a better world for women and survivors, many of whom overlap.
1. Shut Up and Sing (2006) dir. Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck
“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”
After Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines made this offhand statement at a 2003 concert in London, the vehement backlash from the American country music community nearly ended the trio’s career. Kopple and Peck’s intimate documentary chronicles the aftermath of the incident, including the conception of their 2006 comeback song, “Not Ready To Make Nice.” Their country ballad demonstrated their daring refusal to apologize, denounced the death threats these women received for critiquing their government, and found success as a three-time Grammy award-winning bop!