These ten outstanding indie horror films are short but satisfying, offering a glimpse into the creative and brilliant minds of rising female filmmakers.
More and more women are making their mark in indie horror through well-crafted, unforgettable shorts. Here are ten of our favorite female directed shorts.
If you follow my work on this site, you know that I’m a huge fan of horror shorts. These lean, pocket narratives are filled with meaty, macabre substance and no filler. No matter how busy you are, you can always carve out a small span of time — sometimes even just a few minutes — to indulge in high quality horror from some of the most talented, highly original voices in the genre.
Because I have the pleasure of watching and reviewing so many great shorts for this site, I was thrilled to present my picks for the Top Ten Indie Horror Shorts of 2019. However, since February happens to be Women in Horror Month, I thought I’d revisit those picks and offer a new list celebrating some of the amazing horror shorts recently helmed by female filmmakers.
There’s plenty of crossover between the two lists for one very good reason: the women of horror are absolutely killing it right now!
1. The Lonely Host, Dir. Lisa J Dooley
Creepy from the onset, The Lonely Host follows a young woman arriving to visit her girlfriend, yet her bed and breakfast host is unnervingly friendly to the point of concern. Is she just lonely and well-intentioned, or is there a darkness behind that wide grin?
The film pulls you along for a wild ride with tremendous performances from the lead actresses and a reeling plot twist at its shocking conclusion.
2. Suicide By Sunlight, Dir. Nikyatu Jusu
Suicide By Sunlight breathes new life into the modern vampire flick. The film follows the story of nurse, Valentina, who has been barred from seeing her twin daughters by her human ex-partner due to her vampirism. Forced to hide her identity due to society’s intolerance to vampires, she struggles to suppress her bloodlust whilst living in a world that degrades her as both a vampire and a woman of color.
The films make use of supernatural themes to cleverly comment on race-related issues since, even in the vampire world, there is still racism. This prejudice hovers over Valentina, her frustration and emotion portrayed beautifully by actress Natalie Paul.
3. Switch, Dir. Marion Renard
A more lighthearted addition to this list, Switch follows the sexual journey of a young person who discovers a strange occurrence with their body after they lose their virginity.
Renard perfectly captures the confusion, self-consciousness and at times shame and disgust associated with discovering yourself and your body at such a raw age. The frightening imagery blending perfectly with the main character’s road to self-acceptance.
4. For A Good Time Call… , Dir. Izzy Lee
A raw and riveting revenge flick, For A Good Time Call… follows the downfall of a man who records a sexual encounter with a partner without her consent, coming to the realization of how his selfish, revolting actions have affected her.
The film takes no prisoners, as it slams excuses such as ‘it’s just what guys do’ and battling that mentality with an undeniable narrative of pain and suffering that exposes the fragility and pathetic nature of such excuses.
5. Lady Hunters, Dir. Angela Atwood
Another revenge flick, Lady Hunters shows that maternal figures aren’t always as sweet and fragile as they seem. Disgusted by the ill-treatment of a sexual assault survivor and light punishment of her attackers, three mothers take matters into their own hands.
As the predators become the hunted, the issues of rape culture and sexism are addressed with sensitivity and urgency. Although appropriately comedic at times, Lady Hunters remains a powerful yet important addition to the horror genre.
6. The Stylist, Dir. Jill Gevargizian
The Stylist is an unnerving look into a woman’s intense disappointment and loneliness. Cinematic and intense, the film is a daunting look into the main character’s psyche with a climactic ending that really punches you in the gut.
Claire is very much a sympathetic villain, we feel for her even though her crimes are horrific, yet the film does not excuse her actions and fleshes out the dark nature of Claire’s actions. It’s a balancing act that Gevargizian and actress Najarra Townsend pull off perfectly.
7. The Boogeywoman, Dir. Erica Scoggins
A vivid and visually stunning look into the daunting journey of developing from girl to woman, The Boogeywoman introduces a unique and intriguing narrative. The film follows a young girl as she is suddenly having to face the trail of her first period, yet she unfortunately doesn’t have a maternal or otherwise supportive figure to help her through this transition or the horrors of being seen as a sexual object. That changes thanks to the Boogeywoman.
The Boogeywoman is packed full of important messages that are delivered at the right pitch. That combined with stunning cinematography and production design makes for a daunting but empowering watch.
8. ¿Quieres Que Hoy Te Bese? (Do You Want Me To Kiss You This Time?), Dir. Miriam Ortega Domínguez
This horror short is a perfect example of how you don’t need jump scares or special-effect monsters to horrify an audience. The film follows what seems to be the scary but natural phase of transitioning from girl to woman. Our protagonist is a young girl who discovers strange anomalies with her body and psyche as she gets her first period. However, not all is as it seems as she has unfortunately been forced to grow up too soon.
Dark and daunting, Domínguez creates a powerful yet horrifying narrative destined to leave the audience pondering long after the final credits.
9. Eleven Minutes, Dir. Hilda Pontes
Eleven Minutes is a powerful and daring addition to the conversation surrounding the prevalence of sex crimes, drawing its inspiration from the statistic that, in Brazil, a woman is sexually assaulted every eleven minutes.
The horror of this film is that we know what’s to come, and so does our protagonist. The suspense is drawn out beautifully, really capturing the main character’s anxiety and fear as her suspicions grow into terror. The ending is the true gem of the film as the sexual assault victims take back the power stolen from them. This film is a definite must watch.
10. Knock Knock, Dir. Kennekki Jones-Jones
A riveting and emotionally-driven film, Knock Knock follows a caring woman, Sinia who acts a maternal figure for the neglected children next door. The key drive of Jones-Jones’ psychological thriller is her ability to connect to its audience and tell a dark but heartfelt story through the eyes of the characters.
The acting was sublime with lead actress, Shellita Boxie, perfectly capturing her character’s motherly but sympathetic nature, as well as the emotional horror of the character and the narrative.