Essay Example on Women in Horror Films

Published: 2021-06-25 06:37:42
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Vanderbilt University
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The representation of women in the horror films genre has been little with men dominating both on screen and directing roles. This is because the themes of horror films are violent, gruesome and incredibly scary, and women are perceived as vulnerable and powerless (Grant, 2015). In the past, and generally in most horror movies, women would appear in the screens tottering around portraying their beauty and sexuality before screaming and getting brutally murdered by the killer. Also, women who were sexually active were killed. A good example is in the film Halloween of 1978. It wasnt until in the 1970s during the rise of feminism whereby women protagonists were fighting back, that women began to be slightly overpowering in the horror films. This led to the outcome of the final girl, a role that presented a final girl outsmarting the killer and being the only one surviving at the end of the film. Today, women have risen to take tougher roles in the horror genre, both as characters in the movies and in directing. One such woman who has overcome the challenge is Jennifer Kent, director of the horror film The Babadook of 2014.

Born in Australia, Kent is a writer, actress, and director. She chose acting in her late teens and began her career as an actress, particularly in television. She appeared in films such as Murder Call, Above the Law, Police Rescue, and All Saints. It was not until she lost interest in acting that she considered filmmaking. Her first directorial role was in her short film Monster in 2005 that got a screening at over 50 festivals across the globe. She also directed an episode of an Australian series, Two Twisted in 2006. However, it is her film The Babadook that has brought her to the limelight in the horror genre.

The Babadook is a horror film based on her short film Monster of 2005. It is a story of a troubled widow who is raising her son alone after the death of her husband. The single mother has to deal with a sinister presence in her house, the Babadook, which torments people who become aware of its existence. The monster originates from reading a book titled Mister Babadook, after which they are filled with the feeling of its presence. The content of the book is so disturbing that she tears it up and throws it away. The boy is convinced of the monsters existence but the mother, Amelia, is in denial and her sons behavior causes her sleepless nights. The monster continues to torment the family with strange occurrences such as doors opening and closing mysteriously, strange sounds and finding glass shards in food. All along, Amelia believes that this is her sons behavior, but Sam attributes it to Babadook.

One morning, Amelia is shocked to find the book she had disposed reassembled at her doorstep. She is taunted that the monster will become more powerful if she would continue denying its existence and this terrifies her making her burn up the book and running to the police only to realize Babadook was there. These experiences scare her and make her isolated. In another instance, she is possessed by the creature, and she even tries to strangle her son, but she eventually throws up, expelling the Babadook and Sam is saved. In the end, Amelia is able to overcome the monster by tricking it and luring it to the basement where they feed it with earthworms.

Jennifer Kent explained that the aim of the film was split into two. First, it sought to address the issue of facing and overcoming our inner fears. This expressed when the family acknowledges the existence of the beast and develops tactics of living with it. In the end, they are able to come up with a scheme of calming it down and eventually carrying on with their life. Secondly, Kent wanted to explore the role of parenting from a real perspective. She brings out the aspect of motherhood, the challenges and struggles that women encounter when raising their children, as well as their protective role. Many scenes relate to everyday struggles mixed with moments of fear and uncertainty. The mother defends her son throughout the film and ultimately saves him from the beast. Finally, she wanted to portray positive human relationships, and this explains the choice of her characters as loving, to win the empathy of their audience. It is in this loving relationship that the family was able to combine their efforts and eventually overpower the beast in their lives.

The filming of this movie was a success for Kent, being a female director in the horror sector. The film was received strongly at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. It also generated massive response in Europe and the United States. It accumulated a total $7.5 million over a budget of $2 million. This was a huge success and motivation to Kent and her team, as well as other women who are in the industry. Kent has raised concerns about the few number of female directors in the horror film. She believes that there will be a shift and more women will join the sector as she claims that women love scary and are not afraid to explore the subject. This is a reality as more women are watching horror movies as compared to the past. The demographics are rising, and women are dominating the world of horror, in acting, directing, and even streaming in the cinema halls to watch these movies.

In conclusion, the story of Jennifer Kent is a motivation to women in the film industry to step up and take positions in this genre. She is proof that women can compete, and do as good as men. The world of horror is shifting and women should move with it. Soon, the representation of women should be almost, if not equal to that of men.


Grant, B. K. (Ed.). (2015). The dread of difference: gender and the horror film. University of Texas Press.

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