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

15 of 29

The Awakening

The Awakening, Image via BBC Films/StudioCanalUK

Sub-Genre: Ghosts

What it’s about: Florence is a debunker of supernatural hoaxes in 1920s England. She has written a book on the topic, which has somehow made its way into the hands of Robert Mallory, a teacher at a boarding school for boys. He goes to visit Florence and ask her for her help. There have been sightings of ghosts at the school and one boy has recently died, leaving the other students in extreme fear. She reluctantly agrees to help find whoever is pretending to be the ghost. But when she begins to have supernatural experiences herself, she realizes she must stay and figure out what is tormenting the school, before someone else dies.

What makes it feminist: Florence embodies an empowered woman in a time period where women were even more limited than they are now. Her commitment to her work is admirable, but again, she is not made out to be a stereotypical, unemotional career woman. She shows skill at her job, but her emotions motivate her just as much, if not more so. We learn early on that she is compelled to do her job by her personal experiences, and that her skepticism about the afterlife is what keeps her sane. The whole reason she agrees to investigate the school is that she feels for the less fortunate boys there, who fear that the ghost will kill them.

Additionally, Florence’s matter-of-fact disposition and dedication to her work does not exclude her from romance or sex. We get a bit of backstory regarding how a former lover who was in the war motivates her investigations. And there are a few brief and very tastefully wrought scenes in which she feels empowered to embody her sexuality.

As we learn more about Florence’s past, we see how much trauma she has been though. Yet she is still hardworking, persistent, and brave in the face of terrible circumstances.

Trigger Warning: This film does include an attempted rape, but the scene is not graphic.