Women have long been a vital part of horror, both on camera and behind the scenes. These 13 movies available on Netflix feature complex, well-developed female main characters, were written or directed by women, or in many cases, both. Now, you can celebrate Women’s History Month with a good scream or two from the comfort of your own couch.
This Spanish horror flick was just added to Netflix, and it’s already wreaked havoc. Directed by Paco Plaza (co-creator of the [REC] series), the film follows a teenage girl, Veronica, who holds a séance in the basement of her Catholic school with two friends. You may imagine that it doesn’t end well for anyone involved. Since its release, the whole internet has been talking about how utterly terrifying this possession horror movie is.
Karyn Kusama is one of horror’s finest rising stars. Kusama, whose husband co-wrote The Invitation, also directed 2009’s Jennifer’s Body. The Invitation ties together many beloved horror movie tropes (dinner parties, cults, unresolved grief) to create a thoroughly unsettling film.
Although The Descent was originally meant to have a mixed gender cast, writer and director Neil Marshall fought for an all-female cast. He met with many of his female friends to ensure that the women’s roles would not be cliché ridden–and it worked. Six women go on a spelunking expedition, only to get lost in an uncharted cave system. Naturally, the cave system is inhabited by some sort of … creature. This utterly terrifying movie will leave you breathless.
This body horror-comedy has become a cult classic in the decade since its release. When Dawn, a teen abstinence speaker, realizes that she has teeth in her vagina (yes, we did say teeth in her vagina), her life quickly becomes more complicated. As men around Dawn attempt to manipulate and abuse her, she begins to realize that the teeth may not be an impediment–they’re a weapon.
Related: 12 Most Badass Women in Horror
An indie darling, It Follows sunk its creepy claws into many a horror fiend immediately after its release. The film follows young Jay, who begins to be followed by an utterly terrifying entity after having sex with her new boyfriend for the first time. Jay is fierce yet afraid, strong yet in need, and a girl we could watch for hours.
The Babadook, written and directed by Jennifer Kent, holds motherhood, grief, and love at the core of its ethos. After Amelia’s husband dies, she is left to care for their son, Sam, who acts out in the course of his grief. After Sam asks her to read a picture book to him, the book’s main character, Mister Babadook, begins to appear around their home. This quietly terrifying film has a strong idea at its core, making it a moving and scary film.
This anthology film features shorts from four female directors, including Karyn Kusama and Annie Clark (who you may know as St. Vincent). Like any anthology, there are stronger and weaker segments. But each is worth a watch, and you may discover a new horror obsession amongst the directors.
2016’s Raw was one of the most beloved, if controversial, films of the year. Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, it follows Justine, a young vegetarian entering veterinary school. There, she discovers the joys of flesh. Yeah, we’re talking cannibalism. This disturbingly gory film will leave you with nightmares.
This oddball, Bollywood-esque film from Jennifer Lynch (daughter of David) supplies all the Lynchian surrealism you could dream of. Although a bit off-kilter the film can’t decide whether to lean fully into the characters or the nightmarish situation–Hisss will leave you with many a strange vision in the dark.
Gorgeously ugly, Antibirth twists the legacy of David Cronenberg to create a nightmare of a pregnancy. Lou (Natasha Lyonne) is a raging drug addict who discovers herself pregnant, despite the lack of any memory associated with the necessary acts for having a child. Lyonne is magnetic, and the bizarre dream sequences are mind-meltingly strange.
Under the Shadow
This Iranian supernatural horror film garnered a great deal of acclaim upon its release. A mother and daughter in Tehran are just trying to live their lives as the Iran-Iraq War rages outside. An aerial bomb crashes through the roof of their apartment building but fails to go off, ushering in a strange and sinister mood. Soon the mother is convinced that an evil spirit is troubling her daughter. Terrible nightmares and a monstrous haunting ensues.
Lucile Hadžihalilović has long been beloved thanks to 2004’s Innocence. But 2015’s Évolution cemented her status as a horror maestro with a vision. In this film, a 10-year-old boy lives in a village with his mother. The village is only populated by women and young boys. Discovering the dark truth behind this village will unsettle you in ways you could never anticipate.
Featured still from "The Descent" via Celador Films