Fear Street

(Photo by Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Best Horror Movies Directed by Women

Welcome to our guide of the best-reviewed horror movies directed by women! The first directors to break ground were Stephanie Rothman in the 1970s with cult film The Velvet Vampire, and Kathryn Bigelow in the ’80s with another vampiric film, the neo-Western Near Dark. (Bigelow, of course, would go on to make further history as the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar for Zero Dark Thirty.) Still, it would take many more years for the horror space to truly open up. The ’90s, generally regarded as a weak decade for horror, had no Fresh or Certified Fresh films directed by women. The 2000s saw some pick-up with American Psycho, Amer, and In My Skin.

The 2010s were a watershed decade for horror: The genre became an engine that elevated underserved voices and adroitly exposed societal ills and terrors. Over 30 horror movies directed by women were marked Fresh and Certified Fresh in the 2010s, establishing names like Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), Issa López (Tigers Are Not Afraid), Julia Ducournau (Raw) and more. The 2020s continue strong with Leigh Janiak (Fear Street trilogy) and Nia DaCosta (Candyman).

We’ll be adding to this list as horror continues to grow and evolve. Now, discover the best horror movies directed by women!

#49

American Mary (2012)
61%

#49
Adjusted Score: 61274%
Critics Consensus: It suffers a bit from some uneven acting and an underwhelming climax, but American Mary utilizes pitch black humor and striking visuals to deliver gory, freaky thrills for body horror enthusiasts.
Synopsis: Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is lured into a world of freakish surgeries for easy money.... [More]
Directed By: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 61516%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a handsome young writer falls for a gorgeous, seductive vampire, their wild romance seems destined for the ages --... [More]
Directed By: Xan Cassavetes

#47

Nocturne (2020)
62%

#47
Adjusted Score: 65241%
Critics Consensus: Nocturne's thought-provoking themes find themselves at odds with its genre ingredients, resulting in a mild blend that isn't quite pulpy enough.
Synopsis: Inside the halls of an elite arts academy, a timid music student begins to outshine her more accomplished and outgoing... [More]
Directed By: Zu Quirke

#46

Satanic Panic (2019)
63%

#46
Adjusted Score: 65017%
Critics Consensus: It isn't terribly devilish or particularly pulse-quickening, but Satanic Panic remains an entertaining midnight movie that forgiving genre enthusiasts will enjoy.
Synopsis: A minimum-wage delivery girl is forced into a night-long battle with the affluent leaders of a suburban community after discovering... [More]
Directed By: Chelsea Stardust

#45

Dark Touch (2013)
64%

#45
Adjusted Score: 32338%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a remote Irish village, police are called to the scene of a massacre, but they ignore the lone survivor's... [More]
Directed By: Marina de Van

#44

In My Skin (2002)
64%

#44
Adjusted Score: 64648%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Parisian marketing professional, Esther (Marina de Van) has a gruesome secret. She's been obsessed with the damage she can... [More]
Directed By: Marina de Van

#43

The Silent House (2010)
68%

#43
Adjusted Score: 67195%
Critics Consensus: Shot in a single take, The Silent House may be a gimmick movie, but it's one that's enough to sustain dread and tension throughout.
Synopsis: Laura and her father stay in a house overnight, but a mysterious noise makes her very frightened.... [More]
Directed By: Gustavo Hernández

#42

Darlin' (2019)
68%

#42
Adjusted Score: 68009%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A feral teenage girl is taken into strict Catholic church care and prepared for her First Holy Communion.... [More]
Directed By: Pollyanna McIntosh

#41

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#41
Adjusted Score: 75379%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 70432%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A couple becomes the target of a vampires' seductions.... [More]
Directed By: Stephanie Rothman

#39

XX (2017)
70%

#39
Adjusted Score: 72878%
Critics Consensus: XX's array of distinct female filmmaking voices -- and the empowerment their collection represents -- offer enough thrills to make up for the overall uneven quality that plagues most anthology projects.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin and Karyn Kusama present four horrific tales of terror. In "The Box," a... [More]

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: 71310%
Critics Consensus: Nothing Bad Can Happen uses its protagonist's punishing ordeal to pose questions about faith that are well worth considering, even if the film can't quite answer them.
Synopsis: A pious teen (Julius Feldmeier) endures torture at the hands of a sadistic couple (Sascha Alexander Gersak, Annika Kuhl) because... [More]
Directed By: Katrin Gebbe

#37

Amulet (2020)
71%

#37
Adjusted Score: 74484%
Critics Consensus: If its chilly sense of dread never quite becomes spine-tingling terror, Amulet remains smart, solidly disquieting fun for genre fans seeking slow-building horror.
Synopsis: Terror strikes when a former soldier takes a job to help a young woman and her housebound mother.... [More]
Directed By: Romola Garai

#36

ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
73%

#36
Adjusted Score: 72466%
Critics Consensus: ABCs of Death 2 delivers some inventively gory thrills, offering a surprising (albeit still somewhat uneven) upgrade over its predecessor.
Synopsis: Twenty-six filmmakers from around the globe helm stories that detail 26 ways to meet your maker, each one corresponding to... [More]

#35

The Lodge (2019)
74%

#35
Adjusted Score: 84869%
Critics Consensus: Led by an impressive Riley Keough performance, The Lodge should prove a suitably unsettling destination for fans of darkly atmospheric horror.
Synopsis: During a family retreat to a remote winter cabin over the holidays, the father is forced to abruptly depart for... [More]

#34

Honeymoon (2014)
76%

#34
Adjusted Score: 76577%
Critics Consensus: Smart, stylish, and nail-bitingly tense, Honeymoon packs more slow-building horror than many bigger-budget productions.
Synopsis: A honeymooning bride (Rose Leslie) goes sleepwalking into the woods surrounding a secluded cabin. When she returns she looks the... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Janiak

#33

Berlin Syndrome (2017)
76%

#33
Adjusted Score: 80968%
Critics Consensus: Berlin Syndrome offers thriller fans an uncommonly well-written descent into dangerous obsession, enlivened by taut direction and a committed performance from Teresa Palmer.
Synopsis: A disturbed teacher holds a young photographer captive in his Berlin apartment after bringing her home for a night of... [More]
Directed By: Cate Shortland

#32

12 Hour Shift (2020)
77%

#32
Adjusted Score: 81484%
Critics Consensus: Sharp, twisted, and darkly funny, 12 Hour Shift is an uncommonly clever heist caper with a refreshing female-focused twist.
Synopsis: Bodies start to pile up when a drug-addicted nurse and her crazed cousin try to find a replacement kidney for... [More]
Directed By: Brea Grant

#31

Amer (2009)
79%

#31
Adjusted Score: 79158%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ana's carnal desires define her life.... [More]

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 79475%
Critics Consensus: Tales of Halloween boasts a number of fun scares and is overall more consistent than many horror anthology films, even if it isn't quite as dark or nasty as the classics of the genre.
Synopsis: Ten short stories revolve around ghosts, ghouls, monsters, the devil, aliens, and ax murderers who terrorize a suburb on Halloween... [More]

#29

M.F.A. (2017)
80%

#29
Adjusted Score: 80936%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The accidental death of her rapist sets an art student on a course for justice, fueling the inspiration for her... [More]
Directed By: Natalia Leite

#28

Scare Package (2019)
81%

#28
Adjusted Score: 81632%
Critics Consensus: Some of its contents are more entertaining than others, but genre fans should still find this Scare Package well worth opening.
Synopsis: Seven filmmakers present seven terrifying and comedic tales of horror.... [More]

#27

Near Dark (1987)
81%

#27
Adjusted Score: 85433%
Critics Consensus: Near Dark is at once a creepy vampire film, a thrilling western, and a poignant family tale, with humor and scares in abundance.
Synopsis: Cowboy Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) meets gorgeous Mae (Jenny Wright) at a bar, and the two have an immediate attraction.... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow

#26

The Wind (2018)
81%

#26
Adjusted Score: 84536%
Critics Consensus: Imperfect yet intriguing, The Wind offers horror fans an admirably ambitious story further distinguished by its fresh perspective and effective scares.
Synopsis: Lizzy is a tough, resourceful frontierswoman settling a remote stretch of land on the 19th-century American frontier. Isolated from civilization... [More]
Directed By: Emma Tammi

#25

Bleed with Me (2020)
82%

#25
Adjusted Score: 81384%
Critics Consensus: An auspicious debut for writer-director Amelia Moses, the smartly restrained Bleed with Me taps a rich vein of psychological horror.
Synopsis: Bleed With Me is a psychological horror film that explores the intersections of admiration, compulsion, and obsession. Rowan, a vulnerable... [More]
Directed By: Amelia Moses

#24
Adjusted Score: 88792%
Critics Consensus: Fear Street Part One: 1994 kicks off the trilogy in promising fashion, honoring the source material with plenty of retro slasher appeal.
Synopsis: After a series of brutal slayings, a teen and her friends take on an evil force that's plagued their notorious... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Janiak

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 95674%
Critics Consensus: Formally provocative and emotionally raw, She Dies Tomorrow confirms writer-director Amy Seimetz as a filmmaker with a unique -- and timely -- vision.
Synopsis: A woman's conviction that she will die tomorrow spreads like a contagion through a town.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Seimetz

#22

Candyman (2021)
84%

#22
Adjusted Score: 103009%
Critics Consensus: Candyman takes an incisive, visually thrilling approach to deepening the franchise's mythology -- and terrifying audiences along the way.
Synopsis: For as long as residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago's Cabrini-Green neighborhood were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost... [More]
Directed By: Nia DaCosta

#21

Goodnight Mommy (2014)
85%

#21
Adjusted Score: 90621%
Critics Consensus: Dark, violent, and drenched in dread, Goodnight Mommy is perfect for extreme horror enthusiasts -- or filmgoers who prefer to watch between splayed fingers.
Synopsis: Twin boys who do everything together, from collecting beetles to feeding stray cats, welcome their mother home after her reconstructive... [More]

#20

Titane (2021)
87%

#20
Adjusted Score: 95376%
Critics Consensus: Thrillingly provocative and original, Titane reaffirms writer-director Julia Ducournau's delightfully disturbing vision.
Synopsis: Titane: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys, often used in medical prostheses due... [More]
Directed By: Julia Ducournau

#19

Cargo (2017)
88%

#19
Adjusted Score: 91815%
Critics Consensus: Cargo takes a refreshingly character-driven approach to the zombie genre that's further distinguished by its Australian setting and Martin Freeman's terrific lead performance.
Synopsis: Stranded in rural Australia in the aftermath of a violent pandemic, an infected father desperately searches for a new home... [More]
Directed By: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

#18
Adjusted Score: 92668%
Critics Consensus: A smart and subversive twist on slasher horror, Fear Street Part II: 1978 shows that summer camp has never been scarier thanks to stellar performances from Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, and Ryan Simpkins.
Synopsis: A summer of fun turns into a gruesome fight for survival as a killer terrorizes Camp Nightwing in the cursed... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Janiak

#17

Blood Punch (2013)
89%

#17
Adjusted Score: 35191%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A young man becomes entangled in a dangerous love triangle.... [More]
Directed By: Madellaine Paxson

#16

The Invitation (2015)
89%

#16
Adjusted Score: 94147%
Critics Consensus: The Invitation makes brilliant use of its tension-rich premise to deliver a uniquely effective -- and surprisingly clever -- slow-building thriller.
Synopsis: While attending a dinner party at his former house, a man (Logan Marshall-Green) starts to believe that his ex-wife (Tammy... [More]
Directed By: Karyn Kusama

#15

Censor (2021)
89%

#15
Adjusted Score: 96434%
Critics Consensus: Occasionally uneven but bold and viscerally effective, Censor marks a bloody good step forward for British horror.
Synopsis: Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled... [More]
Directed By: Prano Bailey-Bond

#14

The Stylist (2020)
90%

#14
Adjusted Score: 91516%
Critics Consensus: A slasher with flair and crafty patience for the kill, The Stylist marks writer-director Jill Gevargizian as an uncommonly sharp genre filmmaker.
Synopsis: We all dream of being someone else... but for Claire (Najarra Townsend, Contracted), that dream goes from an obsession to... [More]
Directed By: Jill Gevargizian

#13
Adjusted Score: 94039%
Critics Consensus: Fear Street Part Three: 1666 sends the slasher series back in time for a trilogy-concluding installment that caps things off on a screaming high note.
Synopsis: In 1666, a colonial town is gripped by a witch hunt that has deadly consequences for centuries to come, while... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Janiak

#12

Prevenge (2016)
91%

#12
Adjusted Score: 95736%
Critics Consensus: As ambitious as it is daringly transgressive, Prevenge should thrill fans of pitch-black horror-comedy -- and open untold opportunities for writer/director/star Alice Lowe.
Synopsis: A pregnant woman kills an assortment of people.... [More]
Directed By: Alice Lowe

#11

Saint Maud (2019)
92%

#11
Adjusted Score: 102642%
Critics Consensus: A brilliantly unsettling blend of body horror and psychological thriller, Saint Maud marks an impressive debut for writer-director Rose Glass.
Synopsis: The debut film from writer-director Rose Glass, Saint Maud is a chilling and boldly original vision of faith, madness, and... [More]
Directed By: Rose Glass

#10

Raw (2016)
92%

#10
Adjusted Score: 106407%
Critics Consensus: Raw's lurid violence and sexuality live up to its title, but they're anchored with an immersive atmosphere and deep symbolism that linger long after the provocative visuals fade.
Synopsis: Stringent vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) encounters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world during her first week at veterinary school.... [More]
Directed By: Julia Ducournau

#9

Relic (2020)
92%

#9
Adjusted Score: 107891%
Critics Consensus: Relic ratchets up its slowly building tension in an expertly crafted atmosphere of dread, adding up to an outstanding feature debut for director/co-writer Natalie Erika James.
Synopsis: A woman links her mother's increasingly volatile behavior to an evil presence at their family's decaying country home.... [More]
Directed By: Natalie Erika James

#8

Radius (2017)
93%

#8
Adjusted Score: 93162%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When he wakes up after a car accident and doesn't have a memory, a man makes his way into town... [More]

#7

Revenge (2017)
93%

#7
Adjusted Score: 100552%
Critics Consensus: Revenge slices and dices genre tropes, working within an exploitation framework while adding a timely -- yet never less than viscerally thrilling -- feminist spin.
Synopsis: Jen is enjoying a romantic getaway with her wealthy boyfriend -- until his two sleazy friends arrive for an unannounced... [More]
Directed By: Coralie Fargeat

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 95640%
Critics Consensus: Most Beautiful Island plunges audiences into a little-seen sector of society, with writer-director Ana Asensio's fearless performance leading the way.
Synopsis: An illegal immigrant struggling to begin a new life in New York City is offered a great opportunity, but as... [More]
Directed By: Ana Asensio

#5

The Love Witch (2016)
95%

#5
Adjusted Score: 100409%
Critics Consensus: The Love Witch offers an absorbing visual homage to a bygone era, arranged subtly in service of a thought-provoking meditation on the battle of the sexes.
Synopsis: Elaine (Samantha Robinson), a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian... [More]
Directed By: Anna Biller

#4

Good Manners (2017)
96%

#4
Adjusted Score: 96977%
Critics Consensus: Good Manners adroitly juggles disparate tonal shifts while taking a uniquely smart and sensitive look at female relationships.
Synopsis: A mysterious and wealthy woman hires a lonely nurse named Clara to be the nanny of her soon-to-be born child.... [More]
Directed By: Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra

#3
Adjusted Score: 101304%
Critics Consensus: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night blends conventional elements into something brilliantly original -- and serves as a striking calling card for writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour.
Synopsis: Residents of a worn-down Iranian city encounter a skateboarding vampire (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who disrespect women.... [More]
Directed By: Ana Lily Amirpour

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 103383%
Critics Consensus: Tigers Are Not Afraid draws on childhood trauma for a story that deftly blends magical fantasy and hard-hitting realism - and leaves a lingering impact.
Synopsis: When a girl's mother disappears leaving her on her own, she goings a gang of street children, leading to a... [More]
Directed By: Issa López

#1

The Babadook (2014)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 106708%
Critics Consensus: The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares -- and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.
Synopsis: A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Kent

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