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

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American Mary

American Mary, Image via American Mary Productions/Evolution Pictures/Universal Pictures

Sub-Genre: Revenge/Body Horror

What it’s about: Mary is a med school student who aspires to be a surgeon, but struggles to pay for her tuition and bills. She seeks a job at a strip club to help her make ends meet, but when the club owner notes her medical experience, he pays her to perform surgery on a man they’ve tortured in order to save his life. After this, a stripper at the club contacts her and she becomes involved in the world of body modification. But when she is betrayed by someone she trusts, Mary begins to use her skills for revenge 

What makes it feminist: A huge theme of this movie is about women doing exactly what they want to do, starting with the protagonist. Mary is highly dedicated to becoming a surgeon and goes to extreme lengths to get the money to stay in med school. But when she dips her toe in the body modification world, she finds that she really loves it and throws herself into that. And ultimately, when she is stripped of her power, it is her skill as a surgeon (and questionable moral compass) that help her take it back.

Additionally, most of Mary’s body modification clients are women who have altered their bodies in extreme and unusual ways. One has had plastic surgery to look exactly like a cartoon character; others seek horns in their foreheads or for their arms to be switched with their sister’s. But after Mary’s initial shock, she doesn’t judge these women for what they want. The movie itself seems to celebrate them. Mary’s involvement in this unique community serves to validate the unusual desires of these women and assert their ownership over their own bodies. In context with Mary’s own storyline, it’s quite a powerful statement.

Trigger Warning: Rape and sexual assault are big plot points in this movie.