Women are subsiding their teeth ever deeper into repugnance. We map their rise and talk to heads Ana Lily Amirpour, Julia Ducournau and Karyn Kusama
Theres a moment in French film-maker Julia Ducournaus prize-winning aspect debut Raw in which a young vegetarian( ethereally give full play to Garance Marillier) encounters herself accidentally ravenous at the batch of a severed thumb. Its a deliciously frightening vignette, squirm-inducingly squishy, yet somehow bizarrely erotic. Like Claire Deniss controversial 2001 shocker Trouble Every Day , Raw takes an insinuate approaching to the taboo topic of cannibalism, settling its teeth into the sins of the tissue. As all great fright films should, it touches a nerve simultaneously rebuffing and seducing its gathering, sucking us in and spitting us out.
For horror devotees, Raw is the last in an encouraging billow of genre-bending movies which have twisted familiar tropes to new and unsettling purposes. At the end of 2015, my yearly Observer list of the 10 excellent films released in UK cinemas peculiarity both Carol Morleys eerie The Falling and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night , an electrify Iranian-American vampire western which columnist/ 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 gleaned on folk tale and silent film techniques as it subtly unpicked the regret and paranoia of a single baby, habitually projecting her fears onto her lonely child.
Grief and alteration are likewise at the heart of Prevenge , a homicidal antidote to What To Expect When Youre Expecting , written and directed against leading lady Alice Lowe while herself heavily pregnant. Drawing on informants ranging from Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthurs 1934 oddity Crime Without Passion to Jonathan Glazers uncategorisable Birth , Prevenge managed to be maniacal and pensive, creepy and funny often simultaneously.
That such genre-refreshing movies were directed against ladies has not disappeared unnoticed. Last-place October, an article in Rolling Stone periodical heralded the rise of the modern female repugnance film-maker, graphing a route from The Babadook to Raw via Karyn Kusamas 2015 chiller The Invitation , and underlining the fact that a new wave of fright films helmed by girls have helped promote the category by opening it up to tales that unsettle audiences in brand-new and different ways. Similarly, at the Sundance film festival in January, shrieks and cheers saluted the premiere of XX , a female-helmed repugnance anthology described by one of its makes, Jovanka Vuckovic, as a historic moment created in direct response to the lack of opportunities for women in film, particularly in the horror category, which, she disagrees, was poorly in need of new perspectives.
Back in 2007, a Guardian section by Emine Saner entitled Everything but the ghoul argued that there only arent enough female administrators in any genre, but especially in horror. In the decade since that essay was published, weve recognized such female-helmed horror hybrids as Kusamas sardonic high-school nightmare Jennifers Body ( 2009) written 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 caused the roof at FrightFest, the UKs world-renowned horror showcase which has furthermore premiere movies straying from Kerry Anne Mullaneys The Dead Outside ( 2008) to Axelle Carolyns Soulmate ( 2013 ), Ruth Platts The Lesson ( 2015 ), and Kate Shentons Egomaniac ( 2016 ).