She Is Woman, Hear Her Roar!
One of the most common complaints about the horror genre of storytelling is the treatment of women within the story. More specifically, there are many that feel that horror movies overtly sexualize and degrade women for entertainment. After viewing a handful of horror movies that are respected within the genre, it is clear why this is a complaint. However, it is a pedestrian viewpoint of a complex genre of storytelling and shows a lack of deep understanding or willingness to see past the ‘shock and awe’ of these gruesome tales. Horror movies are rich with character development and do not pander to the fact the story involves a female human. Horror movies have been empowering women since Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922) first flickered into existence.
The most powerful player in any horror movie is not the villain. It is in fact the ‘Final Girl’: The only person out of a group or even an entire town who is not only able to survive the entirety of the story but is the source of the villain’s downfall. In the aforementioned movie, the vampire Count Orlok (Max Schreck) can only be defeated if a beautiful woman distracts him long enough to be exposed to the sun. The monster’s demise is wrapped into their deepest desire. This is highlighted best in the cult classic, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993). There is a massive collection of FBI agents and SWAT personnel at the ready, but it is an undercover female police officer who puts herself into direct danger by luring Jason into a vulnerable location. This woman shows more courage than multiple groups of trained agents whose job it is to protect the public. When it comes to Jason and many others, power does not lie within a group but rather a single female.
It is not all fun and games for the women of horror. Before the climax of the story, the women are stripped of their clothes and pressured into exploitative situations by the sleazily-written men. These fictional women are tortured for the enjoyment of the audience member. That is a reason people flock to horror movies. They prove women have the ability to rise above every obstacle and come out the other side victorious. It is not rare to see the main protagonist be forced to fight the monster from her most vulnerable state—making her even more powerful than her male counterparts.
The men of horror are not only allowed to keep their dignity when confronting evil, but are also equipped with a weapon that gives them an advantage. Even with these buffs, they are not able to subdue the monster and often die themselves. Over the last one hundred years of horror on the silver screen, the monsters have evolved to mirror the horrors of real life and the spooks have become spookier, but the aspect of the female heroine has not wavered. When it comes to things that go bump in the night, it is better to have a woman on the defense than any kind of ragtag bunch of misfits.
This article is from Volume 07 Issue 03: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/567535544/