Weekend Watchlist | Women in Horror

By The Pitt News Staff

Who’s your favorite final girl? For our second Halloween-inspired watchlist, we’ve got spooky streaming recommendations starring women. 

Us (HBO Max) // Sinead McDevitt, Senior Staff Writer

Jordan Peele’s second venture after the critically acclaimed “Get Out,” “Us” stars Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a mother trying to protect her family on a summer trip gone wrong, and Red, the leader of a group of terrifying doppelgangers who have emerged seemingly from nowhere and attack their home. The rest of the cast — Winston Duke, Shahahdi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex — also give great performances in both their roles, and it’s fascinating to watch them play off of themselves. Every actor is able to make both of their roles distinct through body language alone.

“Us” is tense and action-packed, with an eerily slow beginning that speeds up once the dopplegangers show up and keeps the audience at the edge of their seat through various twists and turns. The cinematography and soundtrack only add to the experience, perfectly encapsulating the terror the main characters feel during the film.

This is a film that’s great on a first viewing, and even more fun on a second once you know about all the plot twists and can see for yourself how all the threads come together. 

Hereditary (Prime) // Maggie Young, Contributing Editor

Director Ari Aster’s first project with A24 will surely have you fighting some of your own demons by the end of the film, even if they don’t exactly mirror the enigmatic spirits faced by those in “Hereditary.” Toni Collette gives a captivating performance as Annie Graham, an odd mother to two odd children, Charlie (Milly Shapiro) and Peter (Alex Wolff), and a daughter to the even more odd and recently deceased Ellen. As she grieves, Annie begins to unravel Ellen’s secret habits and belongings, as well as Ellen and Charlie’s strange relationship. Through rather grotesque and gripping twists and evocative exchanges, the Graham family completely unravels. Ghostly interference parallels the haunts of inherited trauma and familial relationships in what is easily one of the scariest movies of the 2010s.

Jennifer’s Body (Amazon Prime) // Nadiya Greaser, Staff Writer

“Jennifer’s Body,” like many things by women, about women and for women, was critically panned when it was released — with critics calling it too sexy, or not sexy enough, gimmicky, gruesome or lackluster. But in 2020 we’re allowed to like things, and that means “Jennifer’s Body” and it’s sexy-slasher-cheerleader Megan Fox are finally receiving the critical reevaluation and cult following that they deserved to begin with. The movie is self-aware and ironically self-serious, and it subverts the often sexist and slut-shamey tropes of the genre in a way that highlights how ridiculous horror movies can be. Fox’s comedic timing and ability to lean into campy dialogue is engaging and delightfully cringey, and writer Diablo Cody’s feminist play on the slutty “man-eater” is incredibly satisfying, if a little on the nose. 

Amanda Seyfried plays Jennifer’s codependent best friend, “Needy,” and the chemistry between the two characters is subversively queer and absurdly funny. Director Karyn Kusama leans into the sometimes toxic, always sincere nature of their relationship, and effectively skewers high school drama. “Jennifer’s Body” is campy, and gorey, and highlights that high school is more about the girls we love (and love to hate), than it is about the boys we like (or eat). 

Ready or Not (HBO Max) // Megan Williams, Digital Manager

If you like a little bit of comedy with your horror, “Ready or Not” is the movie for you. This 2019 sleeper hit follows Grace (Samara Weaving), a former foster child excited to finally have a family after marrying her fiancée, Alex. Her in-laws are anything but warm, though — the rich Le Domas clan made their fortune in games of chance, and demand that every new addition play a game on their wedding night. Grace quickly realizes that winning this game of hide-and-seek is the only way she’ll live to see her honeymoon. As the Le Domas family hunts Grace down, their fortune’s supernatural beginnings become clearer. Even with a powerful supernatural force on their side, however, Grace is a resilient adversary who evades like no new member before her — even in a huge wedding dress. 

Though “Ready or Not” delivers on the scares, its best moments come in the form of understated comedy. By the end, you’ll be screaming “F— RICH PEOPLE!!!” with Grace. 

Midsommar (Amazon Prime) // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

Two of Ari Aster’s films are featured on this list, but the works deserve to be here. Midsommar, Aster’s second feature film, is a love letter to women in horror complete with deep-dives into romantic relationship imbalances, collective feminine grief and feelings of isolation, backdropped with a freakish cult in Sweden. The film stars Florence Pugh as Dani, who travels to Sweden with her distant lackluster boyfriend Christian and his friends to attend the Midsommar festival in the countryside. But of course, in Ari Aster style, the members of this community are not immediately forthcoming with their festival practices, and Dani finds herself on what feels like a never-ending terror train.

But the audience is treated to a journey of self-reflection through Dani’s eyes, while she examines not only her romantic relationship but her own happiness throughout the movie. Though the Swedish cult’s morality certainly comes into question, they do help Dani through trauma, holding her hand and suffering through it with her, rather than shoving it aside to be locked away as her boyfriend has been doing. The ending of the movie has its own particular kind of horror, but also a tinge of revelation, and without spoiling anything all I’ll say is that Midsommar is both a punch in the gut as well as a fist thrown at the person who’s been holding you down.