Thursday, February 23, 2017
Women in Horror: Reaction to XX
One of the most disheartening things to see is the idiotic comments about the XX anthology film. I see some of the horror community branding it as gimmicky, meaningless, and unnecessary. There are not many women directors making mainstream films because it's hard for women to rise as directors in the entertainment industry in general, let alone in horror. I loved the film and I felt it took some typical stories and gave them a feminine twist from feminine perspectives. Some don't like it due to the content and that's fine, but many can't even point to specific things that they dislike. So many decry the film because they blatantly don't see how these films are any different than those made by men and therefore it shouldn't exist.
One in particular cited VHS, the anthology film, as featuring women but it wasn't critically acclaimed because they didn't use it as a gimmick to get viewers. What he, and many others, don't realize is that portrayal of women is extremely varied and often is misogynistic in horror films. VHS is particularly misogynistic. I reviewed it a few years ago in a mostly inarticulate way, but my sentiments are the same. The women in that film are succubi, murderers, or hapless victims with little to no character development or relation to the audience. We aren't really meant to relate to or sympathize with most of these women, making them soundly other. The wrap around story featured a woman's shirt being forcibly pulled up to reveal her breasts numerous times in an incredibly exploitative way. It was completely unnecessary to the story and just there to give the assumed male audience their diet of expected breasts in a horror film. I am unhappy that VHS is seen as the epitome of anthology films when it literally made my skin crawl to watch it. I find it incredibly frustrating that people think inclusion of women in film is enough when so many of those portrayals are either simple or insulting.
XX, on the other hand, has women as fully fleshed out characters that are relatable and imperfect. I am a little disappointed that the majority of the films focused on motherhood, but that's my only real critique. Other than that, I found the films so much different than the usual horror fare. Oftentimes, they took known stories and put their own fresh spin on it. I hope this means that more women directors will tapped to create films in bigger studios. So many make their films independently to preserve their vision like Anna Biller, director of The Love Witch. I hope XX is only one of a growing trend of women helming horror films that will hopefully grow to other genres as well. I also can't wait for Jen and Sylvia Soska's remake of Rabid and their mysterious original new project that they've mentioned on their social media. I know haters will be numerous for women director's work, but they can't stop progress.