Most of us can name at least one horror movie moment that shook us to our core. For me, it’s an early scene from The Ring, when a mother (Lindsay Frost) finds her daughter (Amber Tamblyn) — having watched the “killer videotape” exactly one week prior — horrifically unrecognizable; her face twisted and paralyzed in a scream. The moment left me facing my own biggest fear: The idea that without warning, something so horrible and shocking could happen to someone you loved. The mother’s horror was suddenly mine.
The visceral nature of horror allows audiences to identify and empathize with the genre’s protagonists. In recent years, horror films that explore the interior lives of mothers, wives, and women coming-of-age have become some of the most unsettling. With only 31% of films having a woman protagonist, according to a 2018 report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, the more movies that prioritize a woman’s story — and give audiences a reason to care about her — the better.