Posts Tagged ‘feminist horror film’



Poster for Brides to Be, which shows two brides on a wedding cake; the right side of the cake and bride on the right are being swept away in the wind; the bride on the left is holding onto her.

Queer horror in the Pacific Northwest? Heck yes.

Brides to Be (2016) is a film based on the short film Together Foreverin which Robin and Jenna get engaged. The original film is not a horror film, but the sequel, in which Robin, Jenna, and Jenna’s best friend Nate try to set up for the wedding, definitely is. This is a haunted house film as well as a love story, and I really enjoyed getting to see a film with queer heroines, especially two queer femmes who look like the queer femmes I know in the PNW. Also, that twinkle-light aesthetic is how I want my apartment to look 24-7.

Some spoilers ahead.

As much as I enjoyed the director’s genre-bending, queer-positive film, I feel like the narrative could have been tighter. There were a lot of plot holes and unexplained sequences, including

-Whenever Jenna or Robin has an ghostly episode, which is roughly every 15 minutes, why do they just move on as if nothing is wrong?

-Why are Robin, Jenna, and Nate there at the site alone overnight? Is the venue a B&B or does it only have two rooms? Where are all the other guests? (This isn’t an elopement with a photo shoot–we’re told there are guests and that it’s a “big wedding.”)

-Jenna is having trouble writing her vows; she confides in Nate that feels like Robin is so with-it and together and that she can’t be like that. This is never followed up on or explained–is Jenna estranged from her family? Out of work or working an unsatisfactory job? Is she out and supported in her community? Does she have other friends besides Robin and Nate? Does she compare herself to Robin? Does Robin make her feel bad for not having a supportive family and community or not achieving her personal or professional goals? We don’t ever see or hear about Jenna’s problems, or, if not problems, low self-esteem or anxiety/depression to really make her fears seem real.

-Literally WTF is the timeline here–I know the sun goes down at like 4:30 in the winter, but how did we go from brunch doughnuts to driving in the day to a night that lasts forever, in which the three have time to check in, try to set up the entire venue themselves because Gordon didn’t do anything and has no help, have a nighttime photo shoot, have sex, have showers, explore the house, have multiple naps, drink, etc?

Major spoilers below.

Whose horror?

One point of interest in this film is who is suspect and who is the site of horror. In films made by and for straight cis people, queerness and queer/trans people’s bodies are the site of horror–think Silence of the Lambs, Sleepaway Camp, and Valley of the Dolls 2. In Brides to Be, straight people, specifically straight cis men, are the site of horror. Part of it is the constant wondering about discrimination–is Gordon, the venue event planner, actually sick or is it because the wedding party is two brides? Is Bob, the replacement planner/caretaker, creeping on Jenna and Robin because he’s the creepy caretaker or because he fetishizes queer women? Is Nate’s betrayal because he’s always loved Jenna still childhood and she chose another woman instead of him (fucking cry me a river, Nate) or because the house is haunted? Is it sapphophobia or ghosts?

Even though we see the house possess Jenna and Robin as well to a lesser degree, we never find out if Nate’s and Gordon’s treatment of them is queerphobia and how much is the house. And that’s honestly the reality we queer and trans folks live in. People who discriminate against us and murder us don’t always just tell us, which makes it easier for violence against LGBTQ folks to not get labelled as a hate crime and makes intent in queer/transphobic interactions hard to prove.

Also, I was super confused by Nate’s treatment of Jenna because I assumed he was a gay friend (who ARE straight people?) right up until Robin and Jenna told him he’d meet a nice girl; so then I assumed he was bi because I want to believe that bi friends respect each other’s relationships. Clearly I read into that differently than what the creators intended.

All in all, Brides to Be feels like an important film in the beginning of a new age of queer horror–one in which we are the heroes and in which maybe, just maybe, our love can conquer all. Or at least fight off ghosts.

*It’s never stated explicitly in the film whether Robin and Jenna identify as lesbian, bi, or queer, so it may also be the case that Jenna isn’t attracted to men at all.

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Illustration by Kelsey Wroten for Bitch Media. The image is an illustration of a women with bobbed hair and a defiant expression holding up a hand as her arms and torso crumble away.

Body horror is my least favorite genre of horror films, but I love this article from Bitch Media (available online and in the “Blood and Guts” issue): “A New Wave of Body-Horror Films Focuses On Women” by Tammy Oler, who writes about eight films from the 2010s that use “the subgenre to explore harrowing relationships between women and their bodies, confronting us with the grim reality that our ideas of body image may be more fraught than ever.”



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Contains mild spoilers.


Poster for Lyle, which features a dark close-up of Gaby Hoffman’s tear-stained face, her mouth open in shock. Text reads: LYLE: A mother should protect her child. Image from IMDB.

I was checking out Hulu’s A-Z list in the horror section to see what all they had this Halloween, and Lyle, one of my favorite queer horror films, was there on the list! I first saw Lyle back in 2014 when director Stewart Thorndike released her film for free for a month online. (Thanks for the tip, Autostraddle!)

I’ve been waiting and thinking about it for two years(!), so when I saw it on Hulu’s list and I started yelling a little; my partner and I watched it right away.


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Buckle your pants, readers, we’re in for another blood-bath of a horror film in The Descent, a 2005 British horror film with an all-female cast.* Some spoilers are necessary for a deeper analysis, so I put them at the very bottom under “spoilers” so the rest of the review could be mild on spoilers.

Via Bitch Flicks

Via Bitch Flicks (Image of a photo of the six cavers taken before their descent)

This film is no co-ed slumber-party slasher flick but a nature/monster horror film about six badass adventure-seeking women, the core group of whom get together yearly to go rafting, hiking, or, in this case, caving.


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I’ve been recommending a lot of cross-genre media that isn’t too gory or scary, but I’d like to recommend a film for the classic monster-movie fans: Ginger Snaps, a werewolf film from 2000.

Mild spoilers for the beginning of the film.




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