October Horror – Women Who Surprise You

I’m running through my favorite horror films of the past decade or so, in honor of October and Halloween. There’s more than a fair share of horror movies where the females only seem to exist to scream and wail and run aimlessly away from the villain (when they’re not foolishly investigating that dark basement). But not these movies – oh no…

The Descent

The Descent

In “The Descent,” a 2005 movie from English writer/director Neil Marshall, a group of female friends set out on an annual spelunking trip. One year earlier, one of these friends, Sarah, lost her husband and daughter in a car accident. She’s still lost in her grief, and her friends hope that maybe the trip will help her. When they get to the cave, Juno reveals that it’s an unknown cave system, and she very much wants to be the first to explore it. Despite some of the women’s trepidations, they decide to go ahead. And then they discover that they’re not alone in those caves – blind creatures who like how humans taste are in there too. “The Descent” is primarily the story of Sarah and what she must do to survive, but all of the women in this film are strong characters. The bonding and betrayal between the different women are what truly make this movie stand out.

Inside

Inside

“Inside” is a horrific gem that came out in 2007 from French directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Here again (!) the main character Sarah has lost her husband in a car accident (no children though). She’s pregnant, and it’s Christmas Eve. Sarah has settled in for a quiet evening when a stranger knocks on her door, asking to use the phone. When Sarah refuses, the woman attempts to persuade Sarah to let her in. Sarah is not convinced, and calls the police. What ensues as the night goes on is a savage battle that only becomes more and more intense as this unsettling tale unfolds. Showcasing the attack on a pregnant woman is, of course, a taboo that very few (if any other) movies have attempted to portray. And this disturbing movie doesn’t stint on the violence. Both actresses give incredible performances, including Beatrice Dalle as the unhinged attacker.

The Woman

The Woman

Finally, I’m including a movie that I just saw a couple of days ago, “The Woman.” This film was released in 2011 and directed by Lucky McKee, the director behind “May.” “The Woman” deals with a family who seems normal, but is actually anything but. Under the father’s genial demeanor is a violent and demanding tyrant, and his son is learning fast. The mother is a hollow shell and the older daughter is very sad about…something. The youngest daughter is the only genuine ray of light in this family. When the father foolishly decides to capture and bring back a feral woman he found in the woods, none of them will ever be the same. Pollyanna McIntosh knocks it out of the park as the feral Woman – her eyes almost glow in the dark. The gender politics here are not subtle by any means, but it’s an interesting (and disturbing) ride.

Next up – it’s a grab bag, folks…

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