Women are dropping their teeth ever deeper into fright. We map their rise and talk to directors Ana Lily Amirpour, Julia Ducournau and Karyn Kusama
Theres a moment in French film-maker Julia Ducournaus prize-winning aspect introduction Raw in which a young vegetarian( ethereally played by Garance Marillier) procures herself accidentally ravenous at the see of a severed thumb. Its a deliciously shocking vignette, squirm-inducingly squishy, yet somehow bizarrely erotic. Like Claire Deniss controversial 2001 shocker Trouble Every Day , Raw takes an insinuate approach to the inhibition theme of cannibalism, sinking its teeth into the sins of the tissue. As all enormous fright cinemas should, it touches a nerve simultaneously repulsing and seducing its audience, sucking us in and spewing us out.
For horror followers, Raw is the last in an encouraging movement of genre-bending movies which have twisted familiar tropes to new and unsettling objectives. At the end of 2015, my yearly Observer list of the 10 best films released in UK cinemas boasted both Carol Morleys eerie The Falling and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night , an electrify Iranian-American vampire western which novelist/ administrator Ana Lily Amirpour described as being the love-child of Sergio Leone and David Lynch, with Nosferatu as a babysitter. In 2014, Jennifer Kents The Babadook had been my pick of the year a spine-chilling fantasia which drew on folk tale and silent film proficiencies as it subtly unpicked the heartache and paranoia of a single baby, habitually projecting her fears onto her lonely child.
Grief and alteration are too at the heart of Prevenge , a homicidal antidote to What To Expect When Youre Expecting , written and directed by leading lady Alice Lowe while herself heavily pregnant. Sucking on informants wandering from Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthurs 1934 idiosyncrasy Crime Without Passion to Jonathan Glazers uncategorisable Birth , Prevenge managed to be maniacal and doleful, creepy and funny often simultaneously.
That such genre-refreshing films were directed by women has not extended unnoticed. Last-place October, an article in Rolling Stone periodical hailed the rise of the modern female fright film-maker, charting a course from The Babadook to Raw via Karyn Kusamas 2015 chiller The Invitation , and was of the view that a new wave of repugnance films helmed by girls have helped hoist the genre by opening it up to tales that unsettle audiences in new and different ways. Similarly, at the Sundance film festival in January, bellows and applauses responded the premiere of XX , a female-helmed fright collection described by one of its manufacturers, Jovanka Vuckovic, as a historic moment was set up in direct response to the lack of opportunities for women in cinema, particularly in the fright genre, which, she quarrels, was poorly in need of new perspectives.
Back in 2007, a Guardian clause by Emine Saner entitled Everything but the ogre argues that he only arent enough female directors in any category, but especially in horror. In the activities of the decade since that clause was wrote, weve examined such female-helmed horror hybrids as Kusamas sardonic high-school nightmare Jennifers Body ( 2009) to be prepared by Oscar-winner Diablo Cody; Leigh Janiaks marital-meltdown weirdie Honeymoon ( 2014 ), a cross between Andrzej Zulawskis Possession and The Evil Dead ; and even Anna Billers Douglas Sirk/ Jess Franco mash-up The Love Witch . In 2012, the deliciously distorted American Mary by sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska created the ceiling at FrightFest, the UKs world-renowned repugnance showcase which has also premiere movies wandering from Kerry Anne Mullaneys The Dead Outside ( 2008) to Axelle Carolyns Soulmate ( 2013 ), Ruth Platts The Lesson ( 2015 ), and Kate Shentons Egomaniac ( 2016 ).