© Elle Marr for I Like Scary Movies

8 Badass Women In Horror You Should Watch Now

One of my favourite subgenres of horror is feminist horror, especially those where the women not only survive but thrive. I get chills when a female lead subverts expectations and goes from victim to survivor, or prey to predator. These types of movies seem to fall into one of two categories: slashers or r*pe revenge, or sometimes a combination of the two.

Now, I don’t have the stomach for r*pe-revenge movies, but I do appreciate a metaphorical take on the r*pe-revenge narrative (à la Jennifer’s Body), one where the assault is offscreen (like Even Lambs Have Teeth), or better yet, simply part of the backstory in order to be a catalyst for some satisfying revenge (as seen in Promising Young Woman). It goes without saying that this subgenre of horror is perhaps the most disturbing, especially for women, but for those who have experienced r*pe or sexual assault (RAINN.org states that a staggering 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed r*pe in her lifetime) some may find this subgenre to be extremely cathartic and viscerally satisfying to watch.

Most of all, I like a good ol’ fashioned slasher film where against all odds, the women survive using their cunning intelligence and/or ability that their would-be killers (usually men) underestimated. Whether you identify as “feminist” or not (if that’s the case, look up the definition if you’re still confused in 2022), it’s just plain fun to watch characters like Ready Or Not’s Grace (played by Samara Weaving) kick ass as a gun-wielding bride, or Erin from You’re Next (played by Sharni Vinson) jumping into survivalist mode and setting up elaborate, Home-Alone-style death traps to take out her potential killers in a spectacularly gory fashion.

If you’re in the mood to cheer on some badass women in horror, here are my top picks for must-watch movies. This list is a mix of home invasion and hide-and-seek slashers as well as r*pe-revenge subgenres. To spare you from spoilers, this list excludes plot summaries in favour of teasers of the film’s lead female characters—it’s up to you to watch them and see for yourself!

Editor’s Note: This list is not formally a “final girls” list, but instead a list of films featuring badass female leads specifically in the context of revenge or survival horror subgenres. You can expect a more traditional countdown list of final girls in the future.

Grace (Ready Or Not)

Why She Is A Badass: She’s fighting her 1-percenter in-laws to the death (all while in a wedding dress, might I add).

Image via Vox

Ready Or Not (2020)

Genre: Horror comedy, hide-and-seek slasher

Runtime: 1h 35min

Directed By: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Written By: Guy Busick, R. Christopher Murphy

Produced By: Bradley J. Fischer, William Sherak, James Vanderbilt, Tripp Vinson

Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell

Erin (You’re Next)

Why She Is A Badass: Surprise! She’s trained as a survivalist and has elaborate, Home-Alone-style death traps up her sleeve to gruesomely take out home invaders.

Image via Syfy Wire

You’re Next (2011)

Genre: Horror, home invasion thriller

Runtime: 1h 35min

Directed By: Adam Wingard

Written By: Simon Barrett

Produced By: Simon Barrett, Jess Wu Calder, Keith Calder, Kim Sherman

Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen

Sloane and Katie (Even Lambs Have Teeth)

Why They Are Both Badass: They turn the tables on a bunch of small-town sickos who victimize women for fun, and they hold no punches when it comes to exacting their violent revenge.

Image via Dead Celluloid

Even Lambs Have Teeth (2015)

Genre: Horror, revenge slasher

Runtime: 1h 19min

Directed By: Terry Miles

Written By: Terry Miles

Produced By: Joshua Butler, Elizabeth Levine, Adrian Salpeter

Starring: Tiera Skovbye, Kirsten Zien, Darren Mann

Trigger Warning: R*pe-revenge theme (includes off-screen r*pe/assault)

Needy (Jennifer’s Body)

Why She Is A Badass: She will do anything to save her best friend Jennifer from her succubus fate and to avenge her sacrifice (i.e. her metaphorical sexual assault).

Image via IMDB

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Genre: Horror comedy

Runtime: 1h 42min

Directed By: Karyn Kusama

Written By: Diablo Cody

Produced By: Diablo Cody, Daniel Dubiecki, Mason Novick, Jason Reitman, Brad Van Arragon

Starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody, Johnny Simmons, Kyle Gallner

Cassandra (Promising Young Woman)

Why She Is A Badass: For better or worse, she has dedicated her life to avenging her best friend’s sexual assault and resulting suicide, and ensuring her legacy is never forgotten.

Image via Cinemagazine

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Genre: Thriller

Runtime: 1h 53min

Directed By: Emerald Fennell

Written By: Emerald Fennell

Produced By: Emerald Fennell, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Josey McNamara

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Laverne Cox, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam Brody, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Noelle (M.F.A.)

Why She Is A Badass: A dark hero is born when she is date r*ped and the events that follow lead her on a path of revenge on behalf of herself and other female victims of sexual violence.

Image via Anatomy Of A Scream

M.F.A. (2017)

Genre: Horror, revenge thriller

Runtime: 1h 52min

Directed By: Natalia Leite

Written By: Leah McKendrick

Produced By: Rob Angel, Mike Manning, Leah McKendrick, Shintaro Shimosawa

Starring: Francesca Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr., Leah McKendrick

Trigger Warning: R*pe-revenge theme (includes on-screen r*pe scene)

Veronica (Final Girl)

Why She Is A Badass: IMDB describes her as “a complete weapon”—and for good reason—she is single-handedly taking on a group of sadistic teenage boys who kill women (particularly blondes?) for unknown reasons.

Image via The Final Woman

Final Girl (2015)

Genre: Horror, thriller

Runtime: 1h 52min

Directed By: Tyler Shields

Written By: Adam Prince (screenplay by), Johnny Silver (story by), Stephen Scarlata (story by), Alejandro Seri (story by)

Produced By: Kim Breslin, Tara Cowell-Plain, Jeffrey Donnelly, Dureyshevar, Dion York Foley, Marco Torres

Starring: Abigail Breslin, Alexander Ludwig, Wes Bentley

Maddie (Hush)

Why She Is A Badass: She is a force to be reckoned with who impressively fights for her life in silence because she is deaf and mute—none of which hold her back from kicking ass.

Image via Syfy Wire

Hush (2016)

Genre: Horror, home invasion thriller

Runtime: 1h 22min

Directed By: Mike Flanagan

Written By: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel

Produced By: Jason Blum, Trevor Macy, Couper Samuelson, Jeanette Volturno

Starring: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr.

Do you agree with this list? Who do you think I missed? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.