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

28 of 29

When Animals Dream

When Animals Dream, Image via AlphaVille Pictures Copenhagen

Sub-Genre: Werewolves 

What it’s about: Marie is a young woman who lives with her father and her sick, wheelchair-bound mother in a small village in Denmark. She begins to notice strange changes in her body around the time that she begins a job at a fishery. Her coworkers play cruel “pranks” on her, which she initially assumes is some hazing ritual. But as she discovers that their perception of her goes deeper than that, she also begins to learn more about her family. Marie becomes determined to figure out what’s wrong with her mother, and if it has anything to do with the patches of hair and aggression of her own condition.

What makes it feminist: Similar to Ginger Snaps, this movie relates the transformation of a young female protagonist into a werewolf to her puberty and sexuality. But the two movies couldn’t be more stylistically different. Ginger Snaps is flashy and campy, while When Animals Dream is more intimate and atmospheric. This quality lends some self-seriousness to the movie, which makes us take Marie seriously.

Marie’s story stands out in the standard werewolf lore because she isn’t bitten. The hereditary connection between Marie’s ailment and her female ancestors adds a whole new dynamic to the metaphor. In Marie’s family, when the women start exhibiting aggression, disobedience, and a sexual appetite, they are sedated. What Marie’s father sees as a cure is what is making Marie’s mother catatonic. But Marie refuses to be drugged into a life of submission. She would rather be a dangerous, wild animal than live like that. As Marie says, she is becoming a “monster,” and her father wants to tame her just like her mother, and her grandmother, and so on. But Marie rejects the idea that his perception is the right one. And she won’t go down without a fight.

Trigger Warning:  There’s no actual sexual violence in this movie, but there is a moment where Marie is threatened with sexual violence and thinks it may happen.