The 17 Best Feminist Horror Movies Ever

The final girl always reigns supreme.

samara weaving in ready or not
(Image credit: A24/Amazon Studios/Fox Searchlight Pictures)

There’s no denying that it can be pretty scary to be a woman. We, unfortunately, need not look past our realities to know that, but sometimes there’s nothing like a classic horror movie to put into perspective how terrifying our real-life fears and challenges are.

With their scream queen leads and nuanced stories, there’s a whole subset within the genre known as feminist horror. While some franchises may center around the male gaze and a handful of older filmers may have included shameful messaging (ever notice the first kill in a slasher is the character who has sex?), horror also has a long history of being feminist. From its trope of “the final girl” who resiliently faces off with the villain to its themes exploring puberty and empowerment and the many up-and-coming filmmakers within the genre today, many scary movies are centered around women’s stories. Below, we’ve rounded up a handful of the very best feminist horror movies that we consider must-watch.

'Alien' (1979)

signourney weaver as ripley in alien

(Image credit: 20th Century-Fox)

Has there ever been a more badass character in sci-fi/horror than Ripley? We don’t think so! Sigourney Weaver stars in this space movie as a member of a seven-piece crew on a mission to explore a new moon and the horrors that await them when they encounter traces of life. When her teammates don’t listen to her warnings, it ends up being a one-woman mission (along with her cat Jones!), and nothing’s more frightening than when no one else can hear you scream.


'Black Christmas' (1974)

margot kidder and olivia hussey in black christmas

(Image credit: Ambassador Film Distributors/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the first-ever slasher, and Halloween gets a lot of credit for bringing the genre into the mainstream, but in reality, Black Christmas came before it. Released just several months after TCM, this home invasion thriller starring ‘70s icons Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder is set at a sorority house just before the winter holiday break. The co-eds start getting obscene phone calls and murders ensue, leading to a rallying of sisterhood to stop the killings.


'Carrie' (1976)

sissy spacek as a bloodied carrie

(Image credit: United Artists)

Being a teenage girl is a nightmare, and that’s exactly what this film based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name is all about. Brian De Palma expertly adapts the book about a bullied girl with telepathic abilities (Sissie Spacek) and an abusive, religious mother (Piper Laurie), making the horrors in the girls' locker room as real as the supernatural. She’s forever the prom queen in our hearts.


'Ginger Snaps' (2000)

ginger snaps horror movie still

(Image credit: Motion International)

Ginger Snaps walked so Jennifer’s Body could run. (In fact, one high school hallway shot nearly mirrors one in the 2009 movie.) Like Carrie, it’s a classic within the puberty horror genre—about a teenage girl undergoing rapid change and how disturbing that can be. Except, after an encounter with a wild beast, outcast Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) develops a tail, starts turning into a werewolf, and develops a magnetism that her male classmates can’t ignore.


'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night' (2014)

a still from the horror movie a girl walks home alone at night

(Image credit: Kino Lorber/Vice Films)

When you hear the phrase “a girl walks home alone at night,” it implies that something awful is lurking around the corner, and bound to meet her demise. Ana Lily Amirpour’s film flips the script on that perception: In this Persian-language indie favorite, the girl walking home is a vampire (Sheila Vand) holding all the power. Set in an Iranian ghost town, she lurks the streets on her skateboard, finding men to feast on, including those dealing with their own forms of addiction.


'The Invisible Man' (2020)

elisabeth moss in the invisible man

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Inspired by the concept from H. G. Wells' 1897 novel, Elisabeth Moss stars as a woman who flees her abusive, crazed scientist/tech boss ex-boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen)—only to be haunted by him. Having invented a suit that makes him invisible, he stalks and torments her to extremely eerie results, until she discovers how to win at his game.


'It Follows' (2015)

maika monroe in it follows

(Image credit: RADiUS-TWC)

No one can see what “it” is in this teen scream, but it starts to haunt you once you’ve had sex (so it’s a pretty obvious stand-in for the shame surrounding teen sex and STIs). The movie is a humble, oddball of an indie film centered around high schooler Jay, played by Maika Monroe who instantly became a modern scream queen because of her performance. With its larger themes, It Follows and filmmaker David Robert Mitchell unquestionably changed the horror game upon this movie’s release, inspiring the “elevated horror” genre we know today.


'Jennifer’s Body' (2009)

megan fox eating a boy in jennifer's body

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

When Jennifer’s Body was released, misogynistic critics couldn’t comprehend the genius of the Diablo Cody-penned movie directed by Karyn Kusama—but thank goodness the film has since been reevaluated for its greatness. Megan Fox stars as the titular Jennifer, whose body becomes a vessel for a demon after she’s assaulted, and she starts killing off boys at school in response. As her BFF, the awkward Needy (Amanda Seyfriend), takes matters into her own hands, it turns into a campy cat-and-mouse game, but this was a smart movie about assault long before it was more openly discussed in Hollywood.


'The Love Witch' (2016)

a still from the movie the love witch

(Image credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Anna Biller’s The Love Witch is much more of a comedy than it is a horror movie, but it’s a satire that’ll cast a spell on you. Filmed in technicolor and set in a ‘60s-inspired world, it follows a young witch named Elaine (Samantha Robinson) who is desperate to find love. When men fail her time and time again, whether they simply be pisces or forcing her to adhere to specific expectations, she finds herself with blood on her hands—but all the more powerful as a witch.


'Midsommar' (2019)

florence pugh in a flower crown in midsommar

(Image credit: A24)

Not many horror movies are set in the daytime, but leave it to genre master Ari Aster to make one of the freakiest cult films of all time set at a sunny Sweden festival. When Dani (Florence Pugh) is grieving the death of her entire family, she’s surprised to learn her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) is abandoning her to travel with his friends to research a midsummer festival in a desolate location, so he reluctantly brings her along. Immediately upon arrival, things get weird, and Midsommar unfolds into a folk horror examination of grief, found family, and bad boyfriends.


'Pearl: An X-Traordinary Origin' (2022)

mia goth as pearl holding a pitchfork

(Image credit: A24)

Pearl, the second film in Ti West’s X trilogy, can be watched as a standalone movie or a fun prequel to the series. On its own, the slasher set in the 1920s, Spanish flu-era Texas is a wild romp and features the most overt feminist themes of the three movies as an examination of feminine rage. Series lead Mia Goth returns as the titular Pearl, a farm-wife-to-be who has dreams of the silver screen. She’s a bit quirky and willing to do anything to be a star, so she’ll have you screaming before she takes her final bow. And you’ll never look at scarecrows the same.


'Raw' (2016)

the hazing ritual in the cannibal movie raw

(Image credit: Wild Bunch)

When Julia Ducournau’s feature film directorial debut premiered at Cannes, audiences couldn’t stop talking about how squeamish it made them. They exaggerated the level of gore here—but it is the kind of movie that’ll make your stomach turn. When Justine (Garance Marillier) goes to veterinary school and undergoes a hazing ritual in which she’s forced to eat raw meat, despite being a vegetarian, she develops a taste for flesh—one that becomes unbearable and finds her feasting on humans. An allegory for one’s sexual awakening, you’ll feel well-fed the whole way through.


'Ready or Not' (2019)

samara weaving in ready or not

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

You get married, and on your wedding night, find out your in-laws aren’t just hypothetical nightmares, but are out to kill you. What do you do? That’s what happens to Grace (Samara Weaving) when she marries into the wealthy Le Domas board game family dynasty, who have a tradition of “playing a game” at the end of every family wedding. When Grace selects hide-and-go-seek, it becomes a hunt to the death—and an action-filled, sinisterly funny f-the-rich movie from the horror collective Radio Silence plays out.


'Rosemary’s Baby' (1968)

mia farrow in rosemary's baby

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Never ignore a mother’s instinct. Rosemary’s Baby is a certified classic that has inspired countless of other horror movies—and is a notable fashion film—about a Manhattanite woman (Mia Farrow) who is convinced the child she is pregnant with is not of this world.


'The Slumber Party Massacre' (1982)

a still from the horror movie slumber party massacre

(Image credit: New World Pictures)

This ‘80s movie directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by Rita Mae Brown toys with all the expectations that might come to mind when you hear its title. Rather than being an exploitative slasher, it takes a stab at being satirical of the sub-genre (the weapon is a phallic power drill) and uplifts the women who are frequently victims in it. While it’s a parody, it still plays like a horror movie, so bonkers kills and scares still abound.


'Suspiria' (2018)

dakota johnson as susie in suspiria

(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

Dario Argento’s splashy 1977 original is legendary, but Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the story of an American dancer named Susie’s enrollment at a mysterious German school for dance gave it a feminist update. While the original Susie (Jessica Harper) is more of a vessel for all of the horrors that unfold behind closed doors at Tanz Akademie, the version played by Dakota Johnson steps into her power. The overall mood is dark and dreary, and it features some of the most contortionistic body horror, but the payoff deserves a standing ovation.


'The VVitch' (2015)

anya taylor joy in the witch

(Image credit: A24)

Set in colonial New England, a teenage girl named Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy in her breakout role) becomes the subject of scrutiny within her own family when they accuse her of being a witch. As Robert Eggers’ debut feature, it cemented him as a horror auteur with an impeccable taste for mood, period accuracy, and language. And as a story about a young woman facing disbelief and mob mentality—and stepping into one’s divine feminine—it’s also one of the best witch narratives ever crafted. “Live deliciously” and watch it.


Sadie Bell
Senior Culture Editor

Sadie Bell is the Senior Culture Editor at Marie Claire, where she edits, writes, and helps to ideate stories across movies, TV, books, and music, from interviews with talent to pop culture features and trend stories. She has a passion for uplifting rising stars, and a special interest in cult-classic movies, emerging arts scenes, and music. She has over eight years of experience covering pop culture and her byline has appeared in Billboard, Interview Magazine, NYLON, PEOPLE, Rolling Stone, Thrillist and other outlets.