#Art + Culture

How Narrative Around ‘Victimised’ Women In Horror Movie Genre Is Gradually Shifting

Women In Horror Films, bulbbul review, Netflix, 5 powerful performances OTT
In the official trailer for William Brent Bell’s upcoming psychological horror film, Orphan: First Kill, Esther makes her way to America by pretending to be the family’s missing daughter after escaping from an Estonian mental hospital. However, a petrifying development places her against a mother who would stop at nothing to keep her family safe.

The concept was introduced in February 2020 with the working title Esther. In addition to Fuhrman returning her part, Julia Stiles, Rossif Sutherland, and Matthew Finlan joined the cast as of November of the same year. From November to December 2020, there was filming in Winnipeg. Coproduction partners include Paramount Players, Dark Castle Entertainment, Entertainment One, Sierra/Affinity, Eagle Vision, and Signature Entertainment on Orphan: First Kill

Women In Horror Films

Horror films are among the oldest archetypal motion pictures. For instance, a short version of Frankenstein first appeared in 1910. In 1922, Nosferatu established the vampire movie genre. Traditional adaptations of Frankenstein and Dracula were published in 1931. These movies may not seem very terrifying to viewers now, but they are nonetheless widely watched because of their historical significance and occasionally campy acting.

The purpose of making a horror film, especially a ghost story, is to scare the audience, delight the audience, and ultimately evoke the audience’s terror in a horrifying and upsetting way. Especially in contemporary horror films, the usage of murders, monsters, and aliens invokes psychological responses in viewers.

In the horror subgenre, gender responsibility is extremely important. Women’s roles in earlier films were naive, helpless, and inconsequential; all they did was try to scream as a maniac hacked in the shower. However, in the 1970s, which represented the advent of feminism in horror films, women became the main characters and were subjected to “sexualised dread.” Twenty years later, Campbell, a non-virgin who has a sexual encounter in the movie Scream, is as renowned and stunning as her school survivors. However, the narrative has shifted from the involved chaste, guiltless women in 1920 who had no energy and no strength to a strong portrayal of women as anti-heroes. 

A Guardian article explains the historical appeal of the genre to women. Strong female leads may be found in many well-known horror movies, including Carrie, The Descent, and The Witch, to mention a few. Instead of enjoying victimising women, the genre now emphasises women as survivors and protagonists. It has moved away from slashers and torture porn and toward more intellectual, nuanced movies that make social commentary and have an aesthetic goal.

The Witch, a historical horror movie directed by Robert Egger, became an unexpected smash in 2015. The Witch, which has a 91 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, captivated viewers by telling a historically accurate story with a feminist twist. An adolescent protagonist named Thomasin challenges her parents and siblings in this Puritan American story, who believes she has turned into a witch and blames her for all the family’s problems. Of course, she is just a teenage girl—a perilous creature in a society dominated by men, the movie appears to be arguing.

Susie Bannion’s (Dakota Johnson) arrival at a prominent dancing college in Germany, where not everything is as it seems, are both featured in 2018’s Suspiria, which also keeps Mater Suspiriorum. Guadagnino, however, adds his own distinctive touch by setting the story in 1977 and incorporating elements of German political history, particularly the German Autumn, a time of unrest marked by kidnappings and a botched hijacking attempt by the Red Army Faction, a West German far-left militant organisation.

Every strong and independent female character in the movie is a woman. Men are merely narrative accessories. Even the horrifyingly colourful victims are skilled, determined, and resourceful fighters. Susie’s mother, not her father, is mentioned in a chat with Madame Blanc with care and respect; the maternal line matters.

The Harga women reclaim a position of power in Midsommar. The community’s spiritual (and possibly political and religious) leader in the most literal sense is a woman.

Beyond typical leadership roles, women in the Harga hold roles of agency and even sanctity. These women wield all sexual power; they choose their partners, they influence events using ancient magic, they are leaders in the community, and, most obviously, they participate in a sexual ritual that celebrates sexual pleasure and is infused with female power. In a ritualised celebration of sex and pregnancy, women are granted ultimate authority over how to use their sexuality inside the Harga and, by extension, trusted with the survival of the cult. It’s also really empowering despite being terrifying.

To think of an Indian supernatural thriller would mean to get reminded of Anvita Dutt’s Bulbbul. Set against the backdrop of 19th Century Bengal, wrestling with the horrors of misogyny, in a blend of pre-Renaissance Bengal and goth aesthetic, the archetype of the “blood-thirsty” witch is revolutionised and revised into a woman confined to a domesticated lifestyle. The film, which is not our typical horror story, is one in which Dutt seeks to point out the horrors of a male-chauvinistic setting. Giving a peek into the horrifying shackles of patriarchy, the message the film conveys is simple. It says, no woman is born a witch when society makes her one. In the movie, the toe ring stands in for both patriarchal male authority over women and the objectification of women as mere labourers.

Bulbbul is released from that influence when the ring in her toes is destroyed. The movie demonstrated that even if women are exploited on an equal basis, there is no sisterhood among them. Women are the largest exploiters of women in a capitalist system. This is so because women, even when they are being exploited, frequently prioritise their material interests above all else. In a capitalist economy backed by the patriarchal framework, it is impossible to have the kind of comradeship that leads to the dismantling of patriarchal bonds. 


Suggested Reading: Constance Wu Suicidal Experience Tells How Dangerous Social Media Harassment Can Be


The larger film business continues to struggle with issues of diversity and representation. Horror movies have always portrayed women in incredibly sexist and reductive ways, but thanks to people like Ari Aster, things are starting to change. Female viewers no longer need to see the horrifying and inaccurate depiction of their image on the screen, even though people of colour still need far better representation in horror movies where they are mostly ignored. Female characters are reclaiming their agency and are no longer stereotyped as the final girl or the screamer virgin. Instead, they are creating their own niche and working towards empowerment and a subversion of the masculine gaze.

The views expressed are the author’s own.