The Future of Horror: 9 Female Filmmakers Transforming the Genre

The Future of Horror: 9 Female Filmmakers Transforming the Genre

Horrorific content by jessicagomez on February 12th, 2020 | Horror News |

This February marks the 11th Annual Women in Horror Month, where the horror community comes together to recognize the women both in front of and behind the camera of our favorite horror flicks. Horror has always had strong roots in feminism (as explored in depth over at Morbidly Beautiful), and it’s high time that the women behind the camera get the credit they’re due.

The past decade has been rife with great horror films with women at the helm. Karyn Kusama, Issa López, and Jennifer Kent have made the world sit up and take notice: women are just as interested in, and just as capable of, the art of horror filmmaking as any man - and in certain ways, women can dissect the horrors of humanhood from a more nuanced perspective.

This #WiHM, we’ve chosen to showcase the new face of horror - the young women who represent where the genre is heading. These powerful young directors are just getting started in making their mark, and they will inevitably change the future of horror film:

Gigi Saul Guerrero

Guerrero has been creating horror shorts for years, but she broke into features with her Matador segment of The ABCs of Death 2.5. From there, she was tapped to direct a segment for Into the Dark, the Blumhouse series of anthology films on Hulu. Culture Shock was a visceral and timely account of an illegal immigrant’s horrifying experience in America, and from there it was clear that Guerrero had a keen eye and true understanding of the genre. Her influence from the Latinx perspective is filling a large gap in American horror, and with more horror films already on the horizon, she’s proven that she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Sophia Takal

Takal’s #MeToo inspired remake of the classic Black Christmas was polarizing, but she’s shown us time and again that she’s making films that get people talking. She’s behind the New Year, New You film of the Into the Dark series and emotional horror Always Shine; both explore the terrifying aspects of female relationships in a way that only women can fully understand. You may recognize her from a memorable and shocking performance as Stephanie in the “Second Honeymoon” segment of V/H/S.

Chelsea Stardust

Chelsea is no stranger to the horror biz - she worked for years as Jason Blum’s executive assistant before venturing out on her own to create some badass horror films. Her crazy fun horror comedy Satanic Panic was a favorite of 2019, and her Into the Dark film All That We Destroy examines the trauma of an unhealthy mother-child bond in a truly unnerving way. She’s making films that are creative and fresh - a breath of fresh air for the genre.

Nikyatu Jusu

Jusu has an impressive pedigree, and her proclivity to use societal themes for horror is a gift that likens her to Jordan Peele. Her short Suicide by Sunlight premiered at Sundance after winning a slew of awards and critical accolades. The film features black vampires who are able to walk in daylight due to the melanin in their skin, allowing blackness to be a source of power. Peele’s success has proven that Black Horror is both imperative and coveted in these times, and we believe Jusu will be right alongside him blazing the trail to powerful cinema in the genre.

Suicide by Sunlight:

Crystal Pastis

I first met Crystal in 2016 when I reviewed her short Vanilla Cake. The quality of the film struck me immediately. The writing, direction and cinematography put her raw talent on full display. From there, Pastis went on to direct Cheshire for CryptTV. Now, she’s working to create the first ever “Horror Universe” - a horror film that features a protagonist with superhero elements (with a mask created by SFX legend Tony Gardner!) Her creative themes, artistic style, and her ability to create a dynamic film on such a small budget is what makes her talent so valuable, and she’ll be pushing the genre’s envelope more as she grows.

Vanilla Cake:


Axelle Carolyn

Carolyn is a triple threat - the horror actor, writer and director has made a name for herself with films that sneak up on you - take Soulmate, or her segment “Grim Grinning Ghost” in Tales of Halloween, for example - where she directs the films in which she acts. After directing an episode of the Netflix horror juggernaut The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, she solidified that she’s a genre maven, and now that she’s joined Mike Flanagan’s Haunting of Hill House series, she’s made it clear that her hand is going to be a driving force behind some of the most influential horror we’ve had in recent history.

Roxanne Benjamin

Another triple threat who has made her mark exclusively in horror. The writer, director and producer has created some truly noteworthy horror cinema with Body at Brighton Rock, and segments in Southbound and XX. She directed an episode of Riverdale (one of my personal favorite shows, which has tons of horror elements) and her episode of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina aired this year. She’s bringing a new kind of horror onto the scene - one that’s more realistic, and rooted in everyday life. She’s creating a new kind of heroine, proving that women can be imperfect and make mistakes while still being strong enough to come out on top. That’s the kind of filmmaking that resonates with real women.

Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska

The Soska twins are already genre favorites, and lucky for us, they’re only at the beginning of what I can imagine is going to be a long career in horror filmmaking. Their debut film Dead Hooker in a Trunk became a cult classic, and soon after, they exploded on the horror scene with American Mary. This year their film Rabid, a remake of the Cronenberg classic, paid homage to the original while making the film entirely their own. These ladies are living proof that women can bring the gore, and they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

All of these women bring something completely different to a genre as multi-faceted and thought-provoking as horror. They’re changing what it means to be a woman in this industry, making their mark as pivotal forces which will in turn influence future horror films. Over time, they will pave the way for the young girls who will grow into horror filmmakers, who will most certainly be looking to them as inspiration.

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