Top 5 Scream Queen Directed Films

Megan Fox dressed in a purple cheerleader outfit as Jennifer
Megan Fox as Jennifer in Jennifer’s Body (2009).

There is nothing better than celebrating the start of fall and the end of the month than by watching some scary movies. Dedicated to the women who write, direct, or produce their own films, these picks celebrate the scream queens that work hard behind the camera. From psychological thrillers to more traditional horror films, these are all worth watching:

Megan Fox as Jennifer (left) and Amanda Seyfried as Anita (right) sit a bar.
Megan Fox as Jennifer and Amanda Seyfried as Anita.

Jennifer’s Body. Directed by Karyn Kusama, 2009
Starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, the film follows the tumultuous friendship between nerdy Anita (Seyfried) and her popular best friend Jennifer (Fox). When a flesh-hungry demon possesses Jennifer, Anita must do whatever she can to kill the demon without hurting her best friend. What makes this film so fun is that it has become a cult classic of horror films that stars two talented actresses telling a story about demonic possession.

Essie Davis as Amelia sits left of Noah Wiseman as Samuel
Essie Davis plays Amelia (left) alongside Noah Wiseman as Samuel (right).

The Babadook. Directed by Jennifer Kent, 2014
Following themes of grief, depression, and trauma, The Babadook tells the story of Amelia (Essie Davis) as she attempts to raise her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) alone. Recently widowed, Amelia struggles to be a good mom to her troubled son who sees imaginary monsters and struggles to sleep. No one quite does trauma-horror like Kent, who went on to direct the 2018 film The Nightingale.

In the foreground, Ezra Miller is Kevin and Tilda Swinton is in the background as Eva.
Seen here, Ezra Miller as Kevin and Tilda Swinton as his mother Eva.

We Need To Talk About Kevin. Directed by Lynn Ramsay, 2011
Although there is something unpleasant about seeing blood and guts on-screen, there is nothing scarier than your own kids becoming homicidal maniacs. In Ramsay’s 2011 film, the free-spirited Eva (Tilda Swinton) gives birth to Kevin (Ezra Miller), a son whom she can’t seem to connect with. Following a school shooting, Eva must come to terms with who her son really is and what he has done. The film won a BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film in 2012 and continues to be hard to watch today.

Close-up image of Cassie, played by Carey Mulligan as she stands in a coffee shop.
Cassie, played by Carey Mulligan.

Promising Young Woman. Directed by Emerald Fennell, 2020
Written, produced, and directed by British filmmaker Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman promises to be a thrilling roller coaster of emotion. Although it is not entirely categorized as a “horror” movie, the film does a great job in creating a murder-revenge plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The film stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie and Bo Burnham as Ryan with appearances by Jennifer Coolidge, Alison Brie, and Laverne Cox.

Medium close up of Anthony, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.
Anthony, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Candyman. Directed by Nia DaCosta, 2021
As a sequel to the 1992 original film of the same name, Candyman follows the story of Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris) as they uncover the legend of Candyman in one of Chicago’s housing projects. Through his artwork, McCoy becomes increasingly obsessed with the figure that brings paranormal trouble to his neighborhood and ignites fear in those closest to him. Co-written by Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld, the film made DaCosta the first black female director to have a number one at the box office.

Because I couldn’t pick just 5, here are a few more recommendations for spooky films directed by women: The Invitation (2015) directed by Karyn Kusama; The Love Witch (2016) directed by Anna Biller; A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) directed by Ana Lily Amirpour; The Beguiled (2017) directed by Sofia Coppola; Fresh (2022) directed by Mimi Cave; The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) directed by Amy Holden Jones.

Kayla Melendez is a Senior studying English in the Literature track at FIU. Upon graduating, she has no idea what she wants to do with her life, as long as she is somewhere tan and happy. Naturally curious, she enjoys reading, writing, and watching films.