Conversations about how women are underrepresented in film take place all the time. In late May, we were talking about how Sofia Coppola is only the second woman to ever win the Best Director award at Cannes, and was the first woman to do so in 56 years. Our own Bechdel Test section should give you some idea of how underrepresented women are on screen.
But according to this piece, originally published on The Conversation, there’s one film genre where women appear and speak as often as men: horror. The article talks about how much horror loves women, and how it was a genre that originally exulted in screaming women being stalked, blooded, haunted and attacked, and also “punished” promiscuous women. The piece argues that the genre has slowly moved away from “torture porn” to portraying women as “survivors and protagonists”, using Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Robert Eggers’ The Witch as examples.
It’s an interesting idea, although this piece was based on English cinema and doesn’t speak to the trajectory of Indian horror movies specifically. I’ve always found it fascinating how Indian cinema loves portraying women as ghosts and other objects of fear and horror, like in Balloon, Yakshaganam, Maya, Jayalalithaa’s Yaar Nee and the Hansika-Andrea-Trisha starrer Aranmanai. I feel like the preponderance of women in such roles in Indian horror movies confirms my long-held belief that men are secretly (or not-so-secretly) petrified of women, especially the ones they can’t control. Casting them as outlandish, supernatural objects of fear and horror that are (almost always) enacting vengeance and revenge in movies gives vent to that fear in the only way that seems permissible to their pride.