Audiences love to see women suffer on screen, but female filmmakers are being shut out of horror

As Women in Horror Month begins, Nicola Skinner explores the frightening reality for women working in horror today

Tuesday 11 February 2020 08:00
The tension within the horror genre is both progressive and backwards
The tension within the horror genre is both progressive and backwards

Pitted in a fight for survival, with horrible odds on making it out in one piece. Being treated with excessive cruelty, then hounded out of safe spaces while shadowy baddies threaten you with unspeakable things... No, this isn’t the plot of the latest horror film. This is what it’s like to make one as a woman.

When Sophia Takal – the first ever woman to direct a film for horror production company Blumhouse – released her remake of 1970s cult slasher flick Black Christmas last December, the online reaction was arguably more terrifying than the film. One Twitter user, so incensed at the affrontery of this retelling, posted that the film made him root for every man in every horror film to rape the female lead. The film’s screenwriter, April Wolfe, also reported a litany of foul-mouthed abuse. Takal has now made her Twitter account private. I contacted her agency to see if she is working on anything else, but have been met with silence.

Even at a subtler, less notably shocking level, the barriers to finding a foothold – let alone peer-to-peer respect – within the industry are real.

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