Top 10 Female Horror Directors!

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

female horror directors

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, we thought it no better time than to celebrate our favorite female horror filmmakers. Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list, nor a definitive one in any sense, only mere opinion. We’ve omitted some of the newer names in the industry with only one horror title to their names, and instead focused on female directors who’ve dedicated their time, love and energy to the horror genre across a number of titles. Happy Women’s History Month, here is our Top 10 Favorite Female Horror Directors!


We kick off with the honorable mention of Canadian writer, director, producer and all around kickass horror purveyor Karen Lam, who, since making her debut short THE CABINET in 2007, has dedicated the last dozen years exclusively to the horror genre. You’re bad-the-f*ck-ass, Karen! After helming her feature debut STAINED in 2010, Lam has gone to helm EVANGALINE, a number of short films (CHIRAL) and a docu-series called Very Bad Man. Most recently, Lam’s been toiling as story editor for TV series Mythos, Van Helsing and Ghost Wars. After partaking in the horror anthology ETHERIA 7 in 2017, Lam has two projects lines up at the moment: THE CURSE OF WILLOW SONG, and THOMAS TESSIER’S WORLD OF HURT. GET EVANGALINE HERE


While the sample size is still small, there’s no short-selling the massive impact Austrian writer/director Veronika Franz has made in just five years or so. Along with her directorial cohort Severin Fiala, Franz turned heads and churned guts with her debut feature, GOODNIGHT MOMMY, a movie we wholeheartedly recommend if you’ve not seen it already. Breaking ranks a bit by showing her solo sensibilities, Franz solely helmed the “Die Trud” segment of horror anthology THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL in 2018. Of course, what we’re most excited about is seeing Franz and Fiala’s newest joint venture, the highly buzzed-about THE LODGE (pictured), which our man C.Bum dug the hell out of at Sundance a few weeks ago. Keep it close for news on a release date! GET GOODNIGHT MOMMY HERE


Much like Veronika Franz, writer/director Leigh Janiak’s nascent body of work has yielded undeniable impact. Anyone who sat through her harrowing HONEYMOON knows this full well, a feat that is doubly impressive when considering it was her very first film credit of any kind. And the horror affair is no one-off. Janiak has since helmed episodes of horror shows Outcast and Scream, and has two exciting new projects in the works. First, she’s currently filming a TV-movie called PANIC, which she also exec-produced, about a teens competing in a deadly game after graduation. Janiak is also in preproduction on FEAR STREET, an adaptation of R.L Stein’s book series set in Janiak’s native Ohio. GET HONEYMOON HERE


Holy hell, have you seen BOXING HELENA? Well, a chip off the old block, David Lynch’s daughter Jennifer makes the same kind of bold and brazen, naughtily unnerving and surreally sinister films as her masterful papa. On the same par? Not quite, but still, the unbridled passion to push the boundaries and make memorable movies is there. Be it in SURVEILLANCE, CHAINED, HISS, or the various horror episodes Jen has directed on the small screen – Salem, Zoo, The Strain, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf, etc. – Jennifer is one of the biggest female champions of horror storytelling, and one of the most accomplished in the realm. Frankly, we can’t wait for her new horror flick A FALL FROM GRACE, starring D’Onofrio, Whitaker and daddy Lynch! GET BOXING HELENA HERE


Jen and Sylvia Soska are a pair of drop-dead identical Canadian twins, a feat worthy of feting itself, so when you factor in that these two are deeply dedicated to all things horror, yeah, color us smitten. After breaking onto the scene with DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK in 2009, the Soska sisters have become a prolific powerhouse that has racked up over 20 credits in the past decade. In addition to various shorts, feature film titles include AMERICAN MARY, ABCs OF DEATH 2, SEE NO EVIL 2, keep an attentive eye out for Jen and Sylvia’s newest horror flick, RABID, which is slated to hit the U.K. on March 25th. The independent, DIY filmmaking siblings are not only a Hollywood success story, they embody female empowerment in a male-dominated industry! GET AMERICAN MARY HERE


Wisely fashioning her filmmaking sensibility over a half-decade and as many short films, English auteur Ana Lily Amipour announced her arrival with a loud bang via A GIRL WHO WALKS ALONE AT NIGHT, a highly stylish Persian vampire flick that won near unanimous praise when it came out in 2014. Since then, Amirpor dished out THE BAD BATCH, which garnered favor almost everywhere but here (E.Walk apparently hated it). Since then, Amirpour has dipped her toe in television with Legion, Castle Rock and the upcoming Briarpatch, for which she directed the pilot episode. More exciting however is the rising of BLOOD MOON, a horrific fantasy Amirpour has secured Zac Efron, Kate Hudson and Craig Robinson to star in. GET A GIRL WHO WALKS ALONE AT NIGHT HERE


It would be disingenuous to label Mary Lambert a horror filmmaker only, as she’s branched out to every conceivable genre over her illustrious career. It’s just that, her most memorable work no doubt resides in the horror realm, be it her wildly under-viewed directorial debut, SIESTA, or of course her classic Stephen King adaptation of PET SEMATARY. It’s worth noting Lambert got her start on music videos for Madonna and other megastars, but few remember that she also helmed PET SEMATARY 2 as well. The Arkansas native has also directed several TV horror flicks, be it FACE OF EVIL or STRANGE FREQUENCY. She also helmed URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY IN 2005. Most recently, Lambert wrote and directed seven episodes of horror series The Dark Path Chronicles. GET SEMATARY HERE


Yo, when you make a movie as great as AMERICAN PSYCHO, you almost certainly catapult to the upper echelon on the strength of one credit alone. And yet, Mary Harron has continued to toil away in and out of the horror genre. The accomplished Ontarian may not have eclipsed the quality of AMERICAN PSYCHO yet, but she’s shown her filmmaking acumen and love of horror in everything from THE MOTH DIARIES to TV episodes of Fear Itself, Constantine, The Following and most recently, the Netflix miniseries Alias Grace, which she helmed all six-episodes of. Perhaps most enthralling though is the reunion of Harron and AP writer Guinevere Turner on the Charles Manson movie CHARLIE SAYS, which is due for release May 17, 2019. GET AMERICAN PSYCHO HERE


Just as Harron did with AMERICAN PSYCHO, Jennifer Kent has rightly ascended to a horror filmmaking goddess on the undeniable strength of a single film – the unanimously hailed instant classic THE BABADOOK. It’s absolutely astounding to even think that it was Kent’s very first feature film, coming only behind a single 10-minute short called MONSTER and a TV episode of a show called Two Twisted. THE BABADOOK deserves its apotheosis, as it lived up to the loftiest of hype with three, four or five legitimate hair-raising scares in even the most inured and desensitized of horror fanatics. What’s more, Kent will return in 2019 with her newest horror salvo, THE NIGHTINGALE, which our chief critic Chris Bumbray awarded a perfect 10/10 rating at Sundance. GET THE BABADOOK HERE


Brooklyn born visionary Karyn Kusama has been making tough, badass movies since the day she announced her arrival via GIRLFIGHT in 2000, and has only gravitated more toward the horror genre ever since. Following AEONFLUX with Charlize, Kusama gave us the hugely entertaining and highly undervalued JENNIFER’S BODY before helming arguably her finest film to date, the super creepy cult sleeper THE INVITATION. Kusama went the way of television the past few years before contributing a segment of horror anthology XX, and most recently directed who I think is the finest actress working today, Nicole Kidman, in a knockout tour-de-force called DESTROYER. Kusama is a daring filmmaker unafraid to plumb the darkest depths of humanity onscreen! GET JENNIFER'S BODY HERE


While cutting her teeth as a dramatic auteur via RATCATCHER and MOVERN CALLAR, there’s little doubt that Scottish writer/director Lynne Ramsay is moving toward genre filmmaking of the most menacing magnitude. Her 2011 film WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN is a bone-chilling examination of childhood violence and parental psychology featuring an exquisite turn from the great Tilda Swinton. And while took six years for a follow up, Ramsay proved it was more than worth waiting for the hyper-violent vigilante film YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, which also showcases a volcanic performance, this time from the peerless Joaquin Phoenix as a man so inured to violence and PTSD that he makes a living finding kidnapped girls and braining their captors with a bloody ball-peen hammer. GET YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE HERE

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