Horror is a genre notorious for its excessive use of sex and nudity, as well as for its frequent disregard for its female characters. Sure, we’ve won the final girl trope and, in doing so, some of horror lore’s best, baddest characters, but who says badassery can’t be used in evil ways from time to time? Surely if a woman is good enough to save the day, she can also wreak some havoc. We’ve seen how brutal some Final Girls can be, doing whatever it takes to survive and sometimes accumulating their own body count, as is the case You are the next one. And it’s a well-known fact that the best part of the last round of girls is the final showdown between her and the villain. So what keeps movies from occasionally switching roles?
It’s not that female horror villains are completely absent from the genre, it’s just that there’s a huge lack of them. When there is a female villain, they are often very different from their male counterparts. For starters, they almost always have a motive or reason beyond their control to explain their antagonistic ways. For example Annie Wilkes misery is undoubtedly scary, but her actions are explained with mental illnesses such as depression and borderline personality disorder. A similar argument can be made for Ginger Fitzgerald Ginger Snaps who is attacked by a werewolf and thereby transforms herself into one, losing all mental and physical autonomy. It’s strange how movies always feel the need to explain or implement sympathy for female villains’ rampages, which is not the case with male villains, who are allowed to rein in for no apparent reason.
Sex, seduction and vanity
There’s also something to be said about how often sex, seduction and looks play a role in female villains and how they lure their victims. Where male villains typically stalk or chase their victims, female villains often resort to seducing their victims or simply drawing them in with their beauty.
in the Jennifer’s body, Jennifer is sacrificed and turned into a succubus – a demon that kills by seduction – and she must feed on the souls of boys to live and stay young. in the X, The film pays great care and respect to the adult film industry, resulting in a fairly sex-positive film. But Pearl – the film’s main villain – uses sex in scary and awkward ways (e.g. kidnapping Lorraine, touching a sleeping Maxine without consent, etc.), even going so far as to kill Bobby-Lynne (Brittany snow) out of jealousy.
Whatever the story, sexuality is so often used as the backbone for female villains and it just gets stale at this point. We’ve seen this so many times, surely there’s more at their disposal than sex. It’s very, very rare for a male villain to use sexuality as a tool to lure victims in, so why does it seem like the only way for women?
Female villains done right
Scream is a great example of how to get it right with female villains, with a near-balanced ratio of male and female Ghostfaces. The shock factor isn’t that there’s a woman under the mask, and it doesn’t make Ghostface any less scary for the characters or the audience. Friday the 13th is another example – or at least the first film. In a franchise known for excessive nudity, it’s interesting that it all started with a female villain. It’s definitely not a sex-positive movie (or subsequent franchise), but Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) is one of the greatest horror villains of all time. She’s creepy and devious, and her motherly nature makes the film’s final girl trust her. But if you thought a bit of feminism would develop in the franchise – especially after following such a strong female villain – you’re wrong. Still, Mrs. Voorhees’ influence on the genre cannot be denied, so they must have done something right.
There seems to have been some resurgence of female villains in recent years, with Red (US), rose the hat (doctor sleep) and even Esther (Orphaned) makes a bold return. All of these characters are terrifying on their own, but unlike previous examples, they have no humanizing reason behind their actions. They’re just evildoers and that’s what makes them so scary. Red aims to start a revolution in which the tethered will replace their aboveground counterparts, Rose the Hat is the leader of a murderous cult that feeds on the souls of children to stay young, and Esther is a killer with no motive who is frighteningly good is to manipulate people. Each character holds his own strongly and isn’t easily countered, overshadowed, or sexualized, and yet they still rank among the creepiest villains in the genre. It just goes to show that you can make a good villain without relying on outdated stereotypes.
That’s female for horror cinema
However, with the new one Hellraiser movie, which sees a woman take on the role of Pinhead for the first time, it could very well open the door for more female villains to join the plate. We might even see more gender-biased classic horror movies, after all, having a female pinhead doesn’t seem to change the character’s fear factor. In fact, this has breathed new life into the franchise that was long weary and tedious. And hey, working for a female villain Scream So who says it wouldn’t work for other franchises as well? That being said, we deserve some more original female villains rather than regurgitated reboots. Sure, these can be fun, but they can also feel like an excuse. There’s no shortage of new and unique ideas, and when the story doesn’t necessarily need a male villain (as in men) Why can’t the main villain be a woman? As few and far apart as they seem, it would certainly draw audiences in, even if it’s just out of sheer curiosity.
All in all, it’s about time horror treated its ladies better, whether they’re final girls, villains, or supporting characters. Trade in sex and nudity for better character development, stop seeing them as men’s accessories and give them their long-deserved chance to shine. Women can be scary too, and it’s time they proved it.
https://collider.com/why-we-need-more-female-horror-villains-pamela-voorhees/ We Need More Female Horror Villains