Being a teenager is difficult: the changing body and surging hormones, it’s all a horror film in itself. It’s why high school is one of the perfect settings for films about fear and rage, being a monster and liking it, and unlucky fates for whoever gets in the way.
Horror films have had final girls as one of the quintessential character tropes, where a young woman can survive being chased and attacked by monsters and slashers. But what about films where young women are the ones doing the attacking? With how hard it is to be a teenage girl, dealing with things like bullying, boys, and beauty standards, it’s hard to blame them.
10 ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’ (2006)
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a grindhouse-inspired slasher that follows Mandy Lane (Amber Heard), an outsider who has blossomed into her looks, attracting the guys at school who used to ignore her. Now a popular figure in her school, she is invited to a weekend party at a secluded ranch where their fun is ruined by a grisly killer targeting them.
In this high school slasher, the character of Mandy Lane is an inversion of the final girl trope, giving it a different edge from other films in the genre. With cinematography reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it received praise for its ’70s-inspired aesthetic and thoughtful themes.
9 ‘Jennifer’s Body’ (2009)
In Jennifer’s Body, we meet Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried), an odd couple of high school best friends consisting of a shy nerd and a popular cheerleader. When a concert they go to goes horribly wrong, Jennifer is kidnapped by the band and sacrificed for fame and fortune, since the ritual goes wrong, she survives, now having a paranormal appetite for human flesh, particularly those of the boys at school.
Thanks to marketing that failed to accurately represent the movie, this twisted horror comedy did poorly at the box office, but a decade later, it has been revaluated as a film ahead of its time. With a focus on female friendships and sexuality and its biting social commentary, this movie is as funny as it is bloody.
8 ‘The Craft’ (1996)
This film follows a group of misfit teenage girls who welcome a newcomer into their group as they pursue power through practicing witchcraft. While each of them uses dark magic for personal gain, they start to experience unexpected consequences for their practice, as the spells they make have a price to pay.
The Craftwas led by Robin Turney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True as the group of outcast witches, with Balk’s performance as the misunderstood gothic coven leader receiving particular praise. Now considered a cult classic, this story exploring the relationships and dynamics between these powerful teens has plenty of magic to this day.
7 ‘The Babysitter’ (2017)
From director McG, The Babysitter tells the story of Cole (Judah Lewis), a sweet and lonely 12-year-old boy whose best friend is his babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving), a cool older girl who he is in love with. During one night, when Bee has some friends over, Cole spies on them, he discovers they are part of a deadly satanic cult, and Bee is the leader, out for blood.
In this black comedy-horror movie, expectations are reversed as the sweet, charming Bee with a soft spot for her pre-teen friend is revealed to be a ruthless killer, and she is not alone. With a full cast of comedic actors giving it all to their roles of both high school clichés and satanic murderers, this action-packed horror movie is a bloody good time.
6 ‘Teeth’ (2007)
The comedic horror Teeth follows the story of Dawn O’Keefe (Jess Weixler), a young girl that is all about abstinence, promoting it with her youth group. When a fellow abstinence advocate tries to sexually assault her, she inadvertently rips his genitals off with hers. She discovers she has teeth down there, allowing her to attack predators where it most hurts.
The movie takes inspiration from the folk myth of “vagina dentata,” a cautionary tale said to have been meant to discourage sexual assault. While the protagonist Dawn is a sweet and timid girl, she is not afraid to defend herself when she needs to, and with her innate tool, she is much more dangerous than she looks.
5 ‘Tragedy Girls’ (2017)
The comedy slasher film Tragedy Girls follows high school seniors McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) and Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) who run a blog that details grisly true crimes. Determined to do anything to get more followers, they ask a serial killer to give them a hand, but when he refuses, the two will take it into their own hands to commit murders to get content.
The film was received well for its black humor and smart commentary on the state of true crime content and obsession with social media clout. Starring Alexandra Shipp and Brianna Hildebrand, they give a stellar performance as the fame-hungry and bloodthirsty bloggers that prove sometimes those two things are not that far off from each other.
4 ‘Thoroughbreds’ (2017)
Thoroughbreds is about Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke), two high schoolers from wealthy families who were childhood best friends and now have an uneasy alliance as they hang out for mutual benefit. Lily is highly emotional, while Amanda cannot feel anything, and they hatch a plan to get rid of Lily’s stepfather, who threatens to send her away.
This mid-budget black comedy thriller was received well by critics who praised the writing of its nuanced and complex main characters. It features excellent performances, having one of Anya Taylor Joy’s best roles, and shines with the intelligence of the script, creating two cynical and fascinating girls who are more than meets the eye and will do what they need to get what they want.
3 ‘Ginger Snaps’ (2000)
Ginger Snaps follows Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins), a morbid pair of sisters whose lives change when a werewolf attacks Ginger. Her body starts changing, giving her violent impulses that she unleashes on her sleepy suburban town. Brigitte now has to try and find a cure to save her sister and keep her from becoming a monster.
This story of puberty and metamorphosis uses lycanthropy as a grim metaphor for growing up with plenty of dark humor baked into it. In this gruesome coming-of-age, Ginger’s journey into becoming a woman turns much more sinister, making puberty into something deadly.
2 ‘Carrie’ (1976)
A horror classic for the ages, Carrie stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a teenage girl who is ruthlessly mocked and bullied at school while she is raised by her unstable and fanatically religious mother. As prom nears and some of her tormentors hatch a plan to humiliate her, Carrie discovers her weapon against the bullies in the form of telekinetic powers.
Based on Stephen King‘s first published novel, which has been adapted numerous times, this movie details the consequences of high school bullying and religious fanaticism on the life of a sweet young girl who is pushed to extremes to take back control. Being one of the best high school horror films of all time, the prom queen bloodbath scene is one of the most iconic and unforgettable moments in the film.
1 ‘The Loved Ones’ (2009)
From Australia, The Loved Ones is a twisted tale telling the story of Brent (Xavier Samuel), a regular high school teen who finds himself part of a sick game played by his classmate Lola (Robin McLeavy). He is kidnapped and forced to be part of her own dream prom at home with her dad playing along, finding out he is not this family’s first victim.
Praised for its script and tongue-in-cheek approach to the story, critics and audiences received the film very well. With the character of Lola being a rather sympathetic villain, this film is an excellent twist on the prom-gone-wrong horror movie trope and features a fascinating exploration of family dynamics and social alienation in a glitzy and gory manner.
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