Best Female-Focused Modern Horror Films Available for Streaming Right Now

Roles for women in horror have changed from fainting victim to final girl to complex character. They’re villains (as in Jennifer’s Body), capable survivors (like Erin in You’re Next), imperfect mothers (see Hereditary), flawed heroes (It Stains the Sands Red and Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead), and so much more.

In celebration of badass women in horror, let’s take a look at some films that demonstrate a fantastic focus on their female leads. They’re telling stories that could only be told from a female perspective – they carry that weight of social and self-imposed expectations – and they’re doing so with a deft hand.

As a bonus, these films are all available for streaming so you can enjoy them at any time.

I know there are going to be a ton of films I’ve missed on this list, so please, share your additions in the comments!

13. Mohawk

via IMDb

Release date: March 2, 2018
Cast: Kaniehtiio Horn, Ezra Buzzington, Eamon Farren, Justin Rain, Jon Huber, Noah Segan, Ian Colletti, Robert Longstreet
Director: Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here)
Why You Should Watch: Mohawk is a vicious, bloody blend of action, horror, and historical drama, all in one intense revenge film. Set in New York at the end of the War of 1812, the film follows Okwaho (Mohawk actress Kaniehiito Horn) as she witnesses the torture and murder of her loved ones at the hands of a megalomaniac American officer (played to perfection by Ezra Buzzington). Filled with a burning rage, she will stop at nothing to get her revenge.
Where to watch it: Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play

12. Verónica

via IMDb

Release date: August 25, 2017
Cast:
Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer, Iván Chavero, Consuelo Trujillo
Director: Paco Plaza (REC)
Why You Should Watch:
Verónica is a beautiful coming-of-age film disguised as a thrilling supernatural horror. Director Paco Plaza (best known for the brilliant found-footage [REC]) really hit the mark with this film, showing a strong, scared teenager who is dramatically out of her depth while trying to keep her young, dependent siblings safe. It’s a creepy, dread-fueled, well-balanced film (you can read my full review here).
Where to watch it:
Netflix

11. Berlin Syndrome

via IMDb

Release date: May 26, 2017
Cast:
Teresa Palmer, Max Reimelt, Matthias Habich
Director: Cate Shortland (Lore)
Why You Should Watch:
In a story best told by a gifted female director, Berlin Syndromefollows the worst-case scenario of a tourist fling. Australian photojournalist Clare (Teresa Palmer) is traveling in Berlin when she meets a local English teacher, Andi (Max Reimelt). They hit it off and – after a few romantic encounters – Clare wakes up in his apartment to a sobering discovery; the door is securely locked and her phone’s SIM card is missing, leaving her trapped with no way to contact the outside world. Let the nightmare begin.
Where to watch it: Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play

10. The Eyes of My Mother

via The Playlist

Release date: December 2, 2016
Cast:
Kika Magalhães, Will Brill, Joey Curtis-Green
Director:
Nicolas Pesce
Why You Should Watch:
As a child, Francisca (Kika Magalhães) is learning surgical techniques from her mother when a stranger interrupts their practice. He asks to use their washroom, but after Francisca’s mother reluctantly allows him in the house, his true intentions are soon made clear. He brutally murders her and is caught in the act by Francisca’s father. Rather than turn him into the police, Francisca and her father keep the stranger locked up in their barn – with some surgical alterations. Now blind and mute, the stranger is Francisca’s only friend. Even as an adult, Francisca struggles with loneliness throughout the film, but she eventually uses stronger and more proactive methods of finding a companion.
Where to watch it: Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, PSN, Google Play

9. Cold Hell

via IMDb

Release date: January 19, 2017
Cast:
Violetta Schurawlow, Tobias Moretti, Robert PalfraderSammy Sheik, Friedrich von Thun
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters)
Why You Should Watch: This German action-thriller grabs you by the throat and barrages you with a flurry of well-timed attacks until the bitter end. It’s great.
Cold Hell follows a tough young woman who witnesses a murder and – when the police are of no help – realizes her life is in her own hands as she is relentlessly pursued by the killer. Luckily, this badass Thai Boxer is well prepared for a fight.
Where to watch it:
Shudder

8. Prevenge

via IMDb

Release date: March 24, 2017
Cast:
Alice Lowe, Jo Hartley, Tom Davis, Dan Renton Skinner
Director:
Alice Lowe
Why You Should Watch:
Alice Lowe is a brilliant actress and writer with pitch-perfect comedic timing. While Prevenge is her feature-film directorial debut, you may recognize her (sans ghoulish makeup) from horror-comedy Sightseers – which she also wrote.
Prevenge follows Ruth (Alice Lowe) during the late stages of her pregnancy as she receives persistent homicidal guidance from her unborn child. It’s a funny, twisted take on the bizarre changes women may go through while growing another human being.
It’s worth noting that Lowe was 8 months pregnant during filming.
Where to watch it:
Shudder, iTunes, Amazon

7. Last Shift

via IMDb

Release date: October 6, 2015
Cast:
Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, Hank Stone
Director:
Anthony DiBlasi (Dread)
Why You Should Watch:
Last Shift follows a rookie police officer, Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy), as she’s stationed to cover the last shift at a soon-to-be-closed police station. She should have a quiet night ahead of her, but the phone keeps ringing, and the young woman on the other end is in terrible danger.
Part horrifying ghost story, part psychological thriller, Last Shift builds tension and terror in a fantastic way. Jessica is determined to carry out her duties as an officer and shows incredible courage in the face of fear.
Where to watch it:
Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, PSN, Google Play

6. Pyewacket

via IMDb

Release date: March 23, 2018
Cast:
Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose, Eric Osborne
Director:
Adam MacDonald (Backcountry)
Why You Should Watch:
Pyewacket follows the challenges of a mother-daughter relationship in a way that Lady Bird never could. Leah (Nicole Muñoz) is struggling with her mother’s decision to move – as you would expect from an angst-ridden teenager – but her fascination with the occult causes her to lash out in a thoroughly ill-advised way. She is overcome by her frustrations and naively performs a ritual to evoke a witch to kill her mother.
Not a wise move, but, it certainly makes for a fantastic and terrifying film.
Where to watch it:
VOD, iTunes, and Google Play (Canada), PSN (USA)

5. Ginger Snaps

via IMDb

Release date: May 11, 2001
Cast:
Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers
Director:
John Fawcett
Why You Should Watch:
Ginger Snaps is a Canadian horror classic and one of the best werewolf movies of all time (fight me). It’s a perfect coming-of-age tale focused on the bond between two sisters, but it’s got enough shock and gore to please the dude-bros who can’t relate to a film about female puberty (though, seriously, get over it).
Where to watch it: Amazon, Google Play

4. Annihilation

via Paramount Pictures

Release date: February 23, 2018
Cast:
Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac
Director:
Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
Why You Should Watch:
Annihilation is visually stunning. Let’s start there. It’s positively beautiful and absolutely horrific. The creature design is some of the best in recent history (and actually scary as hell). But visuals aside, it’s also a brilliant and compelling film with a cast of seriously talented women. It tells a wild, otherworldly story with a deep focus on our own internal struggles with self-destruction. The female characters of Annihilation are complex and flawed, and it’s wonderful.
You can read our full review here.
Where to watch it: iTunes, Google Play, PSN, Vudu

3. Martyrs

via Wild Bunch

Release date: September 3, 2008
Cast:
Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin, Juliette Gosselin
Director:
Pascal Laugier (The Tall Man)
Why it’s great:
Martyrs is one of the definitive films of the New French Extremity movement and it is absolutely brutal. The film follows a young woman’s quest for revenge as it leads her and a friend on a terrifying journey into a living hell. They are subject to experiments designed to inflict systematic acts of torture upon young women in the belief that their suffering will result in a transcendental insight into the world beyond this one. Martyrs is gruesome as anything you’ll ever see, but the young women demonstrate an incredible strength that is unparalleled.
Where to watch it:
iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play

2. The Descent

via IMDb

Release date: August 4, 2006
Cast:
Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone
Director:
Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers)
Why it’s great:
Fueled by an all-female cast and driven by paranoia, claustrophobia, and a genuine reason to fear the unknown, The Descent is a contemporary horror classic. It’s particularly notable for its treatment of its female characters – they’re independent,  skilled, and their relationships have a complex dynamic with a casual, comfortable shorthand that communicates their history. Each of the women have distinct personalities and flaws that flesh them out as realistic characters, and they each contribute something to the team (a sensible structure that we saw more recently with Annihilation as well). Moreover, The Descent is just a damn good movie.
Where to watch it:
Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play

1. Revenge

via Movieweb

Release date: May 11, 2018
Cast:
Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchède
Director:
Coralie Fargeat
Why You Should Watch:
We might as well stop making rape-revenge movies entirely, because Revenge just assassinated the genre. Coralie Fargeat’s directorial debut is a full-throttle, bloody, intense battle for survival that is so damn good at what it does. It’s a horrific scenario made even more terrifying by the fact that every woman alive has had to awkwardly navigate unwanted advances at least once in her life. Revenge takes that terribly uncomfortable tango and shows how it can all go so horribly wrong. The awful events are backlit by this sun-scorched, neon color palette that leaves the darkness with no place to hide. This movie slays in all the right ways.
Where to watch it:
iTunes, Google Play, PSN, Vudu, Streaming on Shudder starting September 13

(posted on iHorror.com on July 26, 2018)

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