30 Woman-Friendly Horror Movies for the Thrill-Seeking Feminist

10 of 29

The Silence of the Lambs

Silence of the Lambs, Image via Orion Pictures

Sub-Genre: Slasher/Psychological Thriller

What it’s about: Clarice Starling is training to become an FBI agent when her superiors tap her for a specific task. She is asked to interview Hannibal Lecter, a serial killer and cannibal being held at a mental hospital. The police are hoping Lecter can give them insight that will help them catch Buffalo Bill, another serial killer who is still on the loose. Hannibal Lecter requires Clarice to give him personal information about her in exchange for information about Buffalo Bill. The closer Clarice gets to finding Buffalo Bill and saving his latest victim, the more dangerous her relationship with Lecter becomes.

What makes it feminist: There have been entire books written about the feminism of Clarice Starling, so summing it up is a tall order. First of all, the movie is very explicit about the sexism she endures. As an FBI trainee, Clarice lives and works constantly in a heavily male-dominated world. She faces discrimination based on her gender at almost every turn, from almost every man that she meets. The film even brings to light some of the micro-aggressions that every woman faces every day. For example, a coroner chooses to discuss a body Clarice is investigating with a male officer, rather than with her. But without fail, Clarice proves her own intelligence, skill, and general competence with every move she makes.

But creating a character who is only that would have turned Clarice into a one-note stereotype. Instead, Clarice displays a depth of empathy and vulnerability. While this makes her more complex and interesting, it also makes her more feminist. Instead of rejecting those traditionally feminine characteristics to try to fit in with her male colleagues and their methods, Clarice embraces them. And it is this empathy and vulnerability that allow her to get close enough to Lecter to solve the case.

Trigger Warning:  No scenes of explicit rape, but other non-violent sexual violations occur.  See the IMDb parental guide for details.