Horror has always been a genre that sought to preserve conservative values in society. The monster in horror fiction usually represents the countercultural impulses of society that will either be assimilated or destroyed by the end of the film.
While queer subtext has been ingrained in horror cinema since its inception, the way queerness is portrayed has evolved. What was once seen as a threat to society — like the dangerously seductive trope of Sapphic vampires — has been recontextualized as the horror genre has grown. Queer representation in contemporary horror cinema has shifted its perspective in favor of the Other, shifting fear to the true horrors of society.
Laurel (Nicole Maine) is a trans woman on a summer vacation in Los Angeles. During a club night, Laurel meets a group of young women who welcome her into their group, only to reveal that they are vampires.
Brad Michael Elmoreit is Bit is a queer feminist tale that follows the group of vampires as they cleanse the streets of Los Angeles of predatory men. Satisfactory empowerment, Bit uses his vampirism as a superpower that makes his women feel safe while being creatures of the night.
“Jennifer’s Body” (2009)
Check Jennifer (Megan Foxlisten)) is a popular cheerleader at Devil’s Kettle High School who was best friends with Needy (Amanda Seyfried) since childhood. After a satanic sacrifice goes wrong, Jennifer turns into a succubus who needs to feed on flesh to survive – a hunger she satisfies by feasting on her male classmates.
Realized by Karyn Kusama, Jennifer’s body is a horror film conscious of the male gaze. Casting Fox as dangerously seductive succubus just two years after her unnecessarily sexualized performance in Michael Bayit is Transformers is a clear response to the way men objectify women.
“All Cheerleaders Die” (2013)
Maddy (Caitlin Staseylisten)) is a recent member of Blackfoot High’s cheerleading squad. When the cheer squad wakes up unscathed the morning after being in a fatal car accident at the hands of the soccer team, the girls seek revenge on the soccer players one by one.
Chris Sivertson and Lucky McKeethe film All the cheerleaders die criticize and subvert the sexist power structure of high school cliques. Like a classic revenge tale, All the cheerleaders die is a satisfying depiction of queer female power aware of how society and the horror genre has treated women.
“The Perfection” (2018)
Charlotte (Allison Williams) is a talented young cellist who reunites with the director of her old music academy and befriends new star student Lizzie (Logan Browning). After an incident between Lizzie and Charlotte causes Lizzie to lose her hand, her dreams of continuing to be a cellist at the academy are shattered.
What at first appears to be a story of jealousy towards the new star pupil, Richard Shepardit is Perfection, turns into a dark story of revenge. As the horrors of the academy come to light, Charlotte and Lizzie conspire to end the systematic abuse of power.
“The Last Thing Mary Saw” (2021)
Set in 1843, Mary (Stefanie Scott) is being investigated by her Christian community after the mysterious death of her family’s matriarch. What unfolds is the story of two star-crossed lovers living secretly under Puritan control.
Edoardo Vitalettithe slow-burning folk horror film of The last thing Mary saw is a period depiction of homosexuality suppressed by a patriarchal sectarian community. In search of a world free from religious oppression, the two lovers show that their love is not only worth dying for but also worth killing.
Thelma (Eili Harboe) is a college freshman who starts having extreme seizures upon meeting Anja (Kaya Wilkins). She soon realizes that the seizures are a symptom of an inexplicable telekinetic power she possesses that materializes whenever she feels desire.
Bringing the theme of religious oppression into a contemporary setting, Joachim Trevesit is Thelma is a supernatural drama that allows its protagonist to indulge her power and overcome the controlling forces that have oppressed her throughout her life – her family and her religion.
Justine (Garance Marillier) is following in his family’s footsteps and following his freshman year in vet school. Justine’s beliefs are tested away from her parents as she succumbs to brutal college hazing rituals and reunites with her rebellious older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf). While raised as a strict vegetarian, after being forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney, Justine soon develops an insatiable hunger for the pleasures of the flesh.
Julia Ducournauthe first feature film by Raw speaks of strange desires. He defies polite representations of satisfaction in favor of indulgence. As Justine is never portrayed as the monster in the film despite her cannibalistic tendencies, Raw works to dismantle the oppressive hierarchical systems that limit society – college, family, and binary heteronormativity.
‘Ginger Snaps’ (2000)
Ginger (Catherine Isabelle) and Bridget (Emily Perkins) are two outcast sisters from the quiet town of Bailey Downs. On the night of Ginger’s first period, she is attacked by a wild creature. Her wounds mysteriously heal and she feels better than ever, but something is wrong. She begins to grow a tail and, on the night of the full moon, transforms into a bloodthirsty werewolf who must devour others to survive.
Realized by John Fawcett, Ginger biscuits is a coming-of-age tale that reveals the horrors of growing up. The two sisters see no joy in “becoming a woman” and denounce the notion of puberty and all that goes with it – affirming a gender or a sexuality that we have no desire to follow.
“Let the Good In” (2008)
At first glance, 12-year-old Eli (Linda Leandersson) looks like any other 12-year-old girl, except she’s not – she’s been 12 for over 200 years. When Eli befriends Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) – a lonely 12-year-old boy constantly bullied by his peers, Eli takes it upon herself to protect Eli at all costs.
A melancholic horror film directed by Thomas Alfredson, Leave the one on the right in is a love story for strangers. Eli’s vampiric power is never seen as something to be feared, and as the film alludes to Eli’s transgender backstory, leave the good In offers a happy ending for a demographic that too often has to be subjected to tragedy.
Child, Alexia (Agatha Roussel) was in a horrific car accident resulting in the implantation of a titanium plate in his skull. Since then, Alexia has had a certain affinity with cars working as an exotic showgirl at a car show; then, when no one is looking at her, she finds pleasure in making love with cars.
Ducournau’s second feature film Titanium disrupts the distinction between man and machine, gender and gender to create a tender story that has love and humanity at its center. Monstrosity has always sought to represent the upheaval of categories, and as Ducournau reveals in Titanium, monstrosity is not something to be feared, assimilated or destroyed, but rather something to be celebrated. It’s the birth of something new – a certain optimistic futurity anchored in this monstrous creation as an evolutionary step beyond binaries and rigid boundaries.
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