Please stop screaming and do something
October 30, 2011 3:12 PM   Subscribe

I need recommendations for scary movies featuring strong female characters.

I've been exploring the horror movie genre lately, and I've been struck by how many female characters are relegated to screaming and/or acting catatonic. Can you recommend any that break this mold? I can only think of The Descent and Alien.

I like good, scary movies. Not so into gore, but if it makes the movie scary, that's fine. Suspense is fun, as are zombie movies.

Thank you!
posted by sugarbomb to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Night of the Comet. It's not the scariest movie you'll ever watch, but good fun. (It's on Netflix streaming too.)
posted by darksong at 3:17 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Though it's not technically "horror", Picnic at Hanging Rock has all kinds of female characters, strong and otherwise, and it's as unsettling as hell.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:17 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

posted by Tomorrowful at 3:17 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I always thought Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the first Halloween (1978) was a pretty strong "final girl."
posted by macadamiaranch at 3:19 PM on October 30, 2011

It's been a long time since I've seen it, but I seem to recall that Virginia Madsen as the protagonist in Candyman is pretty proactive/strong.
posted by scody at 3:21 PM on October 30, 2011

High Tension aka Haute Tension -- it's awesome!!!
posted by Kronur at 3:24 PM on October 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Panic Room. More suspense than horror, I guess, but it scared the bejesus out of me.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:31 PM on October 30, 2011

I Spit on Your Grave (original & remake), if you can handle the rape scene.
posted by Kronur at 3:39 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Thing remake was pretty weak, but the female lead was pretty great.

sorry for the multiple posts, just sitting here, discussing it with my husband...
posted by Kronur at 3:42 PM on October 30, 2011

Jennifer's Body (more suspense than horror); Teeth.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 3:43 PM on October 30, 2011

Dude, check this thread.

I blew my load all over it, and there's all sorts of good answers on there.

Kinda weird how the questions were related.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:44 PM on October 30, 2011

The first Resident Evil. Pitch Black. Both Dawn of the Deads have strong female leads as well, although I remember the remake better. 28 Days Later.
posted by athenasbanquet at 3:44 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Poltergeist. Mom goes to hell to save her kid.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:03 PM on October 30, 2011

Dawn of the Dead.
posted by HuronBob at 4:47 PM on October 30, 2011

Paperhouse, creepiest movie ever. Main character is a girl who has to conquer her fears to defeat some intensely terrifying monsters from her own subconscious.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 4:52 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage are pretty good female-character-wise. (Although the protagonist of The Orphanage is primarily motivated by maternal love, which might not be what you're looking for.)
posted by zeptoweasel at 5:03 PM on October 30, 2011

Nosferatu--the 1922 original especially. Yeah, the female lead swoons and faints a lot, but she also commits a hugely brave act in the end and basically saves humanity.
posted by tetralix at 5:12 PM on October 30, 2011

The Others

Let the Right One In

The Devil's Backbone (the strong women are supporting characters, but it's a fantastic movie)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:00 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by HuronBob at 6:41 PM on October 30, 2011

Planet Terror. Rose McGowan's prosthetic machine gun leg was truly awesome.

And I too was pleasantly surprised by how strong the female lead (both character and actress) was in the remake of The Thing.
posted by tully_monster at 7:43 PM on October 30, 2011

P2 and Red Eye.

Or, if you want to go an entirely different route, INLAND EMPIRE - Laura Dern really should have been nominated for an Oscar.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:13 PM on October 30, 2011

Ginger Snaps.
posted by Mender at 9:27 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

It's kind of a weird film, it starts off like a fake documentary spoofing traditional horror cliches and then morphs into something different. It's set in this alternate reality where Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers were all real people.

I don't know how scary you'll find it and there is some gore. The reason I mention it is if you're into exploring the horror genre, it's got a whole philosophy about strong female characters in horror films like Halloween.
posted by cali59 at 9:40 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

In the vein of Ginger Snaps, you should check out May - not a 'strong' character in the typical sense but still very atypical for horror and a great performance.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:00 PM on October 30, 2011

The Descent.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:11 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Crap - just reread the question, sorry!
posted by freya_lamb at 2:12 AM on October 31, 2011

Sarah Polley in the lead role of Dawn of the Dead (2004 remake) kicks ass.
posted by snarfois at 5:59 AM on October 31, 2011

Sarah Polley was also in Splice, a pretty good genetic manipulation / body horror / freudian thriller recently. She's a very interesting actress (and director) with a remarkably wide range.
posted by snarfois at 6:05 AM on October 31, 2011

I will say Polley was fine in Splice, but the movie itself wasn't good.

Came here to say The Descent, but try to find the original (UK) version/ending if you can.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:35 AM on October 31, 2011

Silent Hill has several non-swooning-type female characters, including a couple of baddies.
posted by zeptoweasel at 12:17 PM on October 31, 2011

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