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7 Indie Thrillers Directed by Women That Will Leave You Looking Over Your Shoulder

7 Indie Thrillers Directed by Women That Will Leave You Looking Over Your Shoulder

“American Psycho” (2000)

There’s something truly timeless about “American Psycho” and all of its unruly madness. Directed by Mary Harron, the film features a blistering lead performance by the one and only Christian Bale as the maniacal Patrick Bateman. Based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name, all seems perfectly well and normal as the young and handsome bachelor lives the American dream as a Wall Street banker. However, when dusk turns to dark, things just go slightly awry as Patrick, um, lets loose and brings his extremely violent fantasies to life. As he becomes a suspect in a murder, his perfectly composed and calculated facade begins to crumble into pieces. Sixteen years later, it’s probably fair game by now to call this film a classic.

READ MORE: 9 Contemporary Indies That Are New Horror Classics

“Near Dark” (1987)

Long before her gripping series of Academy Award-nominated political thrillers, “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow made a horror film about vampires. No, really. You read right: Vampires. In “Near Dark,” Bigelow changes the formula of the typical “boy meets girl” story by incorporating a pair of fangs that set the course for the rest of the film. The story follows a young man named Caleb and a vagabond named Mae as they fall into a love affair that turns out to be much riskier than your average relationship. As Mae confesses her identity as a vampire, she bites Caleb on the neck and turns him into one of their own, therefore compelling him to leave his family and life behind. Things get complicated and tensions arise when he joins the rowdy gang of vampires, ultimately forcing Caleb to make a choice between his old family and new. Although the film was a box office flop upon its release, it has gathered quite the cult following over time. And rightly so.

“We Need To Talk About Kevin” (2011)

Parenting is never easy, especially when your child turns out to be a sociopathic murderer. In “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” directed by Lynne Ramsay, the story unfolds through a series of flashbacks that reveal more and more about a mother’s strained relationship with her unresponsive son. Before Kevin was born from an unplanned pregnancy, Eva (brilliantly portrayed by Tilda Swinton) selflessly put her ambitions aside in order to provide her child with the best possible future she could offer him. However, things were strange from the moment Kevin actually entered the picture, as the relationship between the two was always seemingly so intense and distant. At 15, Kevin completely unravels and goes on a killing spree at his high school, leaving his mother to deal with the debris of his actions. In arguably his best and most intense performance to date, Ezra Miller shines as the titular teenage sociopath. While the film is a thriller on the surface, it is truly a compelling drama at the core, as the film explores how a mother endures her grief over her own child. 

“A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” (2015)

Equal parts Western and horror, “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” may just be one of the most refreshing additions to the genre in recent memory. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour in her debut feature, the film is mesmerizing from start to finish in all of its black and white glory. In the fictional Iranian ghost town of Bad City, danger looms over the streets. Arash (Arash Marandi), a young man who lives with his drug-addicted father, attempts to make a living for himself as a gardener for the wealthy. Soon enough, he comes across a nameless vampire (Sheila Vand) who roams the streets at night to prey for men who disrespect women. Needless to say, the unnamed vigilante is merciless and a total badass. As the pair fall in love, the two of them find an unexpected hint of light in the darkness.

“Goodnight Mommy” (2014)

When a pair of twin boys arrive at their new house in the Austrian countryside, they are welcomed home by their unusually aggressive mother. Mysteriously, her face is completely wrapped in bandages after enduring reconstructive surgery, leaving the boys to wonder who might be underneath all along. She is cold, distant and not like the mother they had known before they came back home. As the two continue to question her identity and conspire in constantly setting her up to reveal who she really is, the film slowly but surely descends into utter madness, leaving its audiences breathless by the time the climax strikes. Although it may be difficult to watch at times, the spellbinding intensity of the film makes it almost impossible to look away from. Co-directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, “Goodnight Mommy” is an effectively unsettling look at the search for identity and trust. This is a film you won’t forget.

“Honeymoon” (2014)

A couple’s time following a wedding should be nothing short of blissful and perfect, but that’s not quite the case in “Honeymoon,” Leigh Janiak’s haunting debut. The film follows a newly married couple as they celebrate their honeymoon at a romantic rustic cabin located deep in the wilderness, only for things to become very strange very quickly. In the night, Paul (Harry Treadaway) stumbles upon his wife, Bea (Rose Leslie), aimlessly wandering around in her sleep. Her behavior only becomes increasingly bizarre, leaving Paul to try and investigate how the love of his life has so quickly turned into a shell of her former self. Modest as the film may seem, don’t let it fool you, as the film reveals much depth and terror as its layers are peeled one by one. Do try not to blink through this one.

“The Babadook” (2014)

Have you ever known a children’s book so terrifying? In “The Babadook,” life becomes much stranger than fiction in Australian director Jennifer Kent’s electrifying debut feature film. In fact, it may be the most sophisticated horror entry about a mother and child yet. Following the tragic death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is left to raise their son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), on her own. Charming and sweet as Samuel can be, he is also quite troubled. Every night, he tries to convince his mother that monsters lurk in the shadows of their house, leaving him to create his own handmade weapons to fend them off. Amelia, however, doesn’t believe her son until the moment she is forced to. As they continue to be tormented by an evil spirit within the discomfort of their own home, the two of them are reminded that at the end of the day, they’re all each other has. Not only will the film leave you pulling the sheets over your eyes, but it’s also incredibly touching as we watch the bond between mother and son grow stronger than it had ever been. While it’s already been two years since its release, it’s still difficult to stop talking about this film. It truly leaves an unnerving mark.

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