Somewhere along the way, men got it into their heads that women can’t stand horror movies — just like we all hate beer, football, and video games, right? The truth is, while earlier horror movies definitely employed some sexist tropes and questionable imagery, there are tons of female horror fans out there. More importantly, there are plenty of horror films that serve their female audiences just as much as their male audiences, if not more so. After all, horror movies like Alien and Halloween gave us iconic strong female stars in Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis over 40 years ago. And new horror heroines like Florence Pugh in Midsommar or Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch just keep on coming.
Horror movies made today don’t just feature strong women — they also take on women’s lived experiences as the premise for the horror, and often in an incredibly fascinating way. It Follows, a horror movie about a woman who becomes haunted by a curse after having sex for the first time, mimics the way sexual shame and stigma can follow young women. Hereditary, a horror movie about a twisted family trying to change its fate, explores motherhood and what passes between generations. Sure, men (and many women!) may have honed an appreciation for jump scares and gore, but the psychological aspects of horror, now more than ever, speak especially to the female condition.
So, whether you’re reclaiming the genre for yourself or just settling in for another horror binge, where to begin? Here are 25 horror movies that have special meaning for their female fans.