Writer / Reader / Fandom Extraordinaire
Chiara / June 30, 2015 , Tue / films & music

If you know the reference in the title, I LOVE YOU.

Here I am, talking about horror movies, as promised in numerous places on this site. Because I watch more horror movies than I should probably admit, and I also have a lot of thoughts and feelings for these said horror movies (my babies).

Think back, my friend, to a recent horror movie (and I mean thriller or horror here, but I just say horror because it sounds better) that you watched. I am betting that 90% of you will have watched a horror movie with a female protagonist, probably either in her teenage years, or those years before 30. Am I right? Yes.

I can understand why horror movies are swamped with female protagonists. Because they elicit a kind of vulnerability, inability, and dependency. In short: they need to be saved because they’re female. Usually by a boyfriend, or a brother, or a father, or a male cop, or any male character in the movie.

Just because I understand it doesn’t mean that I agree with it, but that’s a discussion for another day. Today, I want to talk about the boys.

In a world where ~88% (I read that figure somewhere recently, but you probably shouldn’t quote me on it) of all major films consist of male protagonists – completely throwing this out there based on no research and just judgement of the many movies I spend my time watching – the remaining 12% probably comprises the horror movies that revolve around a female main character.

I’m pretty sick of it, to be honest. I loathe watching the character go through all this shit, only to be killed off (usually by an evil male or an entity [that is probably inherently male]) or saved by a male. I am 100% truly sick of it, because they all feel incredibly recycled. Rarely, if ever, do I find a horror movie with a capable female main character.

“Oh but they’re just horror movies, why are you reading so much into it?” is a thought that might cross someone’s mind when I speak of this, but the thing is: I love horror movies. I don’t want them just for the gore and creepiness. In fact, I loathe those horror movies where there’s senseless killing going on and there is no given reason for it. I need a why in my horror movies. My favourite horror movies are the ones that have a really great back story – two that I can think of are Dream House and An American Haunting.

A recent horror movie that I watched and loved as A Haunting in Connecticut, and it is actually the movie that inspired this post. Because the protagonist was a teenage boy (dying from cancer, which I thought was unfair. I mean, cancer and a haunted house? That is supremely cruel), and there was a really great back story.

I want more of these. I loved that when confronted with this scary as shit stuff that was happening to him, he just kind of tried to ignore it, but then he got increasingly freaked out as the scary shit increased in vehemence. It was good. He wasn’t all macho and capable. He wasn’t running around saving damsels in distress. He was a kid who was scared, and who was also very brave.

And he was a guy. I loved it! It turned every horror movie cliche on its head. A great story, no senseless killings and gore, and a male protagonist who wasn’t written in just to save a girl or be immune to everything that was going on.

So I want to hear it for the boys – I want more horror movies like this because we definitely need them. Let’s get rid of the poor pitiful female characters and introduce some capable ones, and also bring in some boys who have more depth to them than the saviour trope.

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6 Responses to let’s hear it for the boys

  1. Beth W says:

    Well, now I have that song stuck in my head. Thanks. :P
    I actually love The Cabin in the Woods, because of the fun it has with traditional horror tropes, and gender roles within those. It’s horror/comedy, and I definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet.

    • Chiara says:

      YAY! At least it’s a good song :D

      I have seen Cabin in the Woods, and I quite liked how it turned the horror tropes on their heads! I wish there were more horror movies that did the same kind of thing.

  2. Alyssa says:

    You definitely have a point! I think that when the world is debating how to write girls in more complex, layered ways, it’s equally important to write boys in ways that stereotypes would have us forget. I’m actually trying to do that with my Camp NaNo project (tomorrow!!!), so this was a great reminder that boys too can be afraid and need help.

  3. I don’t watch horror because I’m a total chicken when it comes to graphic violence and whatnot, so I don’t have an awful lot to add to this discussion, but I can totally see where you’re coming from. I do have a sort of “morbid interest” in horror movies, where I’ll look up the description of things to see what it’s about. And when it’s about lesbian vampires or zombie beavers (this is a thing!), I just roll my eyes. I wouldn’t enjoy the mindless killing, either. It would need a decent storyline, not just “Let’s throw a few round-busted women in here and make them scream”.

    I think a guy’s POV would make for a fresh perspective!

    • Chiara says:

      I used to be like that! I hated the gore, and thought it was SO GROSS but now there’s not much that grosses me out, haha!

      Oh yeah, the senseless killings are the WORST, and also the ones that are just fan service. Those movies are definitely not worth watching.

      I love seeing horror movies from the male perspective! It’s so interesting, and I more often than not I end up liking those ones more :D

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