Five Feminine Horror Films of the Mind and Soul

feminine persona

by Kris & Lindy Boustedt

When we set out to make our latest feature, BRIDES TO BE, we started with a premise that we haven’t often seen: can a movie be equal parts psychological horror, romance and character study?

We wanted to create a film that inspired dread, of course, but that was rooted in the emotional realities of our characters and dealt with universal questions of the human condition.

Though not routinely celebrated for that fact, this is what we think horror does best: expose ourselves to ourselves, with chills along the way.

While we took influence from every cinematic corner in the making of BRIDES, we wanted to share a small list of horror (or, horror-ish) films we found particularly inspiring, some skirting the edges of the genre, some planted firmly within it, all dealing with essential questions about fear and anxiety and the consequences of succumbing. Films that, regardless of the gender of the actors or filmmakers, celebrate a feminine energy and wrestle with the interior lives of their characters.

Come see the world premiere of BRIDES TO BE at The Egyptian on June 17th (more information on the film below; tickets can be purchased here), but in the meantime, rent these movies from Scarecrow and give your brain some candy.

feminine innkeepers
Take away the ghost and you’re left with a compelling story about two people, maybe in love or maybe just familiar, struggling with classic existential anxieties: who am I? What is my purpose? What is my worth? And all the horror is rooted in that: the ghost works as a mirror for the characters (but especially Claire), a beautiful externalization of their dread, forcing them to question if their fear is real.

feminine repulsion
Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian, nails our appreciation for this film: “[Carol’s] fear of sex develops into a neurotic fascination and horror of dust and dirt of all kinds, a condition that escalates into agoraphobia and paranoid episodes. The nightmare she creates for herself is one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen in the cinema: the way scenes will end with bizarre hallucinations and jolts; the “assault” scene played out to the amplified ticking clock; the sudden, giant cracks she imagines on switching on a light – they always creep me out with a thoroughness that run-of-the-mill horror movies never achieve. There can’t be many other films which so plausibly show an entire, warped world created from a single point of view.”  A now-classic but still-effective idea: the horrors of our own mind transforming into reality. A study of fear from within.

So much has been written about this film, we’re honestly not sure what we can add.  But the way the movie deconstructs identity, notions of femininity and even film form itself cannot be ignored.

feminine innocents
A gorgeous film that we discovered thanks to Martin Scorsese’s list of “Scariest Movies of All Time”. While the politics are perhaps a bit regressive by today’s standards, it’s still incredibly fascinating to see a story deal with feminine identity via notions of motherhood and sexuality.  But what really attracted us to this movie was its use of sound.  But why read words about sound, when you can hear examples: VOX Breakdown (scroll down to #11, but they’re all worth watching).

feminine changeling

If you’re thinking to yourself wait, George C. Scott ain’t no lady, you would be absolutely correct.  But there is something decidedly feminine in the way the film ultimately eschews the fight or flight binary of most horror films — the forces of antagonism here are neither something to be defeated nor ultimately to be feared, but instead, something to be embraced. Also on Scorsese’s list, the way director Peter Medak photographs the haunted mansion are wonderful examples of how to create dread and tension with space and silence rather than cuts and cacophony. But don’t let that undermine the brilliant use of sound design in this film; like THE INNOCENTS, it is a master class in its dynamic swings from subtle to jarring. And here’s another reason to be super thankful for Scarecrow: this film isn’t available online.

About BRIDES TO BEbrides to be
Robin & Jenna are madly in love. They’re getting married tomorrow. Robin is excited beyond words; her dreams are coming true. Jenna is plagued by panic attacks and struggles to write her vows. When they arrive at their secluded fairy-tale venue, about to re-open after years of vacancy, they quickly realize not everything is as it seems.

At first, Jenna shakes off the supernatural events as her own anxieties. But as the sinister forces around them awaken, the brides and their best friend find themselves in real danger. The stakes rise, the violence escalates, and Jenna is faced with the ultimate crisis: can she reject doubt, have faith in love and overpower the forces working against her?

Can she save the woman of her dreams?

BRIDES TO BE is both a love story and a psychological thriller, a timeless romance and a haunted house. Skillfully mixing genres, it explores how doubt and fear can be imposed upon us and infect us from within, but only if we let it.

Kris and Lindy Boustedt have written, directed, produced or edited dozens of films, including two features, and create media for non-profit fundraisers and corporate promotions. Their clients include The Phoenix Suns, FareStart, Allied Waste, PhRMA, The World Cyber Games and The Seattle International Film Festival.


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