As Needy Lesnicki from ‘Jennifer’s Body’ famously said, “Hell is a teenage girl.” These films embody the turmoil and terror of teenage girlhood.
The line penned by the iconic screenwriter Diablo Cody rings true…hell really is a teenage girl. Teen girls have long been the heroines of countless horror films, fighting unimaginable evils and fighting against the pressures of an often cold and volatile society. Here are 13 films that embody the idea that hell is a teenage girl. These films encompass the pains, awkwardness, and downright cruelty that can come with being an adolescent girl. This list offers everything from budding psychopaths, blood soaked survivors, outright monsters, and retribution seeking victims.
A young girl can be whatever she wants to be whether it’s the heroine or the villain of her story, and this list reflects that. Enjoy these tales of teenage feminine terror.
1. Jennifer’s Body (2009) – Director: Karyn Kusama
Karyn Kusama helms a biting and refreshing horror comedy that looks right into the heart of teenage terror. The film is built around best friends Needy and Jennifer and their ultimately unhealthy codependent relationship. The already borderline volatile friendship turns even more toxic when Jennifer becomes possessed by a demon after becoming a botched sacrifice to Satan by a nefarious emo boy band.
Jennifer’s Body is witty and insightful as well as funny. There’s a lot of layers to the movie that has long been dismissed by critics and audiences alike. It’s definitely a movie that needs to be reassessed and it deserves all the mounting retroactive praise that it has been receiving in the past two or so years. It’s a triumph and speaks to the talents of director Kusama and writer Diablo Cody.
2. Ginger Snaps (2000) – Director: John Fawcett
This rightfully beloved cult Canadian werewolf flick meshes cis female puberty with lycanthropy with eerie and interesting results. Teenage girlhood can often feel monstrous, and Ginger Snaps captures that feeling perfectly. Sisters Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald are outcasts and often targets of bullying by the high school’s more popular students. One night when attempting to exact revenge on one of their cruel peers, Ginger gets her period and attracts the attention of a werewolf who subsequently attacks her.
The attack sets into motion a tragic series of events that leaves Brigitte caught in a race against time to save her sister. As Ginger starts to rapidly transform into a werewolf she finds herself consumed with an insatiable lust for carnage and destruction. The film boasts two exceptional performances from Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as Ginger and Brigitte. This is a movie that only gets better with age, much like Jennifer’s Body does.
3. Carrie (1976) – Director: Brian De Palma
Sissy Spacek takes on the iconic role of Carrie White in the first—and what is widely considered the definitive—adaptation of Stephen King’s masterful novel. Carrie is the abused daughter of a mentally unstable religious zealot who cannot find any reprieve from her life at home or at school. Upon getting her first period and being publicly humiliated for not knowing what was happening to her, Carrie discovers that she has telepathic powers and starts to hone them. As a result of the bullying, the girls involved are banned from attending prom.
In an attempt to make a nice gesture, Sue Snell asks her boyfriend Tommy Ross to take Carrie to prom as a way to make up for Sue and the other girls tormenting her when she got her period. Meanwhile, Chris Hargensen has a more nefarious plot in store for Carrie, one that will lead to a quite literally explosive conclusion and some oh so bloody revenge on literally everyone who has ever wronged Carrie. It’s also worth checking out the 2002 television version of Carrie, penned by none other than Bryan Fuller, and the 2013 adaptation directed by the fantastic Kimberly Peirce.
4. Raw (2016) – Director: Julia Ducournau
College is supposed to be a time for exploration and self-discovery. But for Justine, it quickly becomes a nightmare when she arrives at the veterinarian school that her older sister currently attends and her parents attended. Justine comes from a family that is strictly vegetarian and has never eaten meat. During a hazing ritual that all new students are forced to undergo, Justine is made eat a raw rabbit kidney. The rabbit kidney awakens a hunger within Justine that she didn’t know she possessed, one that causes her to crave human flesh.
This artfully told cannibal film meditates on inherited family afflictions and sibling rivalries. It has elements that are reminiscent of Ginger Snaps, particularly the friction between a pair of two close in age sisters. Raw is a stunning feature from French director Julia Ducournau who meditates on the different types of hunger that a person has, all the while telling an engaging cannibal tale.