From femme fatales to Lizzy Bordens, women have long struck a chord of fear in the public with their own unique brand of rage. The Mercury decided to take a tour through our favorites, just in time to fill your Halloween watchlist.
The horror and thriller genres are a catalyst for the rawest human emotions, with terror or trauma forcing characters to shed their skin and commit atrocities. Lazy horror or thrillers may use women as an object to propel a man’s rage. Whether that be to avenge a dead lover or to save a damsel in distress, the only common factor is that the female character is an observer. But better movies have shown that women are just as capable of playing the villain, with remorseless evil to make the viewer’s skin crawl. For this spooky season, fire up the TV and scare yourself with some genuine, authentic displays of female rage.
Pearl. The girlies are no strangers to maladaptive daydreaming. Coping with the drabness of her rural life through fantasies of fame and fortune, Pearl’s ambitions and delusions often get the best of her, giving her a red flag stained with blood and envy. Despite being a psychopathic liar and killer, many fans find her clumsy femininity oddly endearing, making her a modern horror icon.
Gone Girl. Strife with loved ones is all too common. We have all had a moment where we wanted to ruin someone’s life permanently. But what if you really had the smarts, guts and the heart of steel to pull it off? Strap in while the crazed protagonist of this thriller frames the love of her life with the crimes of a lifetime just to prove how much she really cares.
Barbarian. Maternal, nurturing instinct is something society pushes onto women, and men often have the impression that they are owed special treatment from them. In this movie, the “monster” in question is just a tortured woman lacking humanity but craving the love of a child. This film will have you questioning which is worse — a monstrous product of incest or how men treat women.
All About Eve. She was Ingrid before Ingrid went west, she was Hedra before Single White Female. This 1950 drama follows Eve Harrington, a remorseless but brilliant grifter who manipulates her way into the spotlight of the film industry by taking over the life of a star. But the lies cannot last forever, and it is only a matter of time before another young face takes her place.
Orphan (2009). Every woman goes through a phase of their life where they are stuck between girlhood and maturity — but what if that in-between could turn into your superpower? Ester, a 33-year-old woman with a special form of dwarfism, uses her persona as a child to manipulate and torture her adoptive family. Her self-hatred combined with her jealousy of her adoptive family’s normalcy pushes her to commit heinous acts, killing off each family member and attempting to seduce her new father.
Carrie (1976). Bullied, excluded and beaten down by unfair standards, many women find high school difficult. Based on the novel that brought Stephen King to fame, the titular protagonist of Carrie is no exception. The awkward, pimply girl with the crazy mother, Carrie is the laughingstock of her school. Until she discovers a power inside her, the secret strength of a hundred men. And when her temper snaps, few will escape.
Society expects women to be prim and proper, submissive and polite. And while murder is wrong, we have to question the true source of the horror in the fatal woman trope. Is our culture just afraid of what it can’t control?