Jennifer Reeder has been doing The Work in the film industry for a while now, and it's frankly about time that she got the notice she deserved. Fellow filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, who took this year's Best Picture Oscar for his film Parasite, recently named her to his list of the 20 directors who will be shaping the future of cinema — not just in 2020, but beyond. And if you haven't seen her noir-musical film Knives and Skin, which not only bends genre convention on every level but illustrates the power of female friendship, you should get on that ASAP.
In celebration of Women's History Month, SYFY FANGRRLS asked Reeder to talk about her favorite genre movies directed by women — past, present, and what she's looking forward to from the future of film, as well as a few honorable mentions that should be on everyone's viewing lists.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014), Ana Lily Amirpour
"This is a post-punk-Persian-grrrl-vampire-western shot in black and white. AGWHAaN is a cool and stylish film that set off a new movement of woman in genre which has been escalating since."
American Psycho (2000), Mary Herron
"Obsessively detailed portrait of a serial killer who is so STRAIGHT WHITE MALE that he is fantastically forgettable. This perpetrator is so desperate to be recognized but remains utterly invisible. One of this film's most dramatic scenes is based on business cards rather than bludgeoning."
The Headless Woman (2008), Lucretia Martel
"This is a tense and slow-building thriller by a master storyteller which forces one to wonder what actually happened that one night."
Morvern Callar (2002), Lynne Ramsay
"This is an astonishing portrait of a woman grieving whose greatest goal is to be autonomous. The namesake of this film is both profoundly compelling and entirely unknowable. The THRILL of this film is not the death and dismemberment but rather the notion of a young woman with unbreakable will and agency."
Raw (2016), Julia Ducournau
"A beautiful and shocking portrait of a woman in transition. This film confirmed that women were reclaiming genre. It robustly commits to its subject and proves that women have a taste for graphic content."
You Were Never Really Here (2017), Lynne Ramsay
"This is a brutal portrait of a very particular kind of man which Ramsey gazes at with a decidedly feminine lens. This film will take your breath away over and over."
Atlantics (2019), Mati Diop
"By far the best film of 2019. This is a deeply moving love story and a harrowing possession story with broad-reaching cultural and geographical implications."
Blow the Man Down (2019), Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy
"This is such a smart and perfectly constructed thriller. It provides a fresh take on the story about small-town secrets."
Nightingale (2018), Jennifer Kent
"This is a fantastic follow up to Kent's The Babadook. It’s a brutal revenge drama set in vintage down under. This film establishes Kent as a true master of horror."
Saint Maud (2019), Rose Glass
"Gut-wrenching portrait of a young woman challenged and transformed by her devotion. This is a tense and visually stunning film that induces constant squirm, but you can't look away."
Most-anticipated films to come
Shirley (2020), Josephine Decker: "A portrait of the imitable horror writer Shirley Jackson by the auteur Josephine Decker whose previous films include Madeleine’s Madeleine, Butter on the Latch and Thou Wast Mild and Lovely."
Candyman (2020), Nia DaCosta: "A much-needed update by the director of the utterly moving Little Woods."
Honorable mentions directed by men
Carrie (1976), Brian de Palma: "This film features the most perfect ending to all films ever made. It's a great example of why the 'teen film' is a perfect nest for horror. Sissy Spacek is brilliant as both hero and villain."
Rebecca (1940), Alfred Hitchcock (based on a book by Daphne de Maurier): "This is a wickedly morose telling of a lady love triangle between a newlywed, her maid and a ghost. I saw this film for the first time when I was very young, and it’s been under my skin ever since. It's possibly one of the reasons I am a filmmaker working in genre."