28th Sep2021

Female-driven horror at the 2021 London Film Festival

by Alain Elliott

At over sixty years old now and screening over three hundred movies over the course of two weeks, the London Film Festival is a huge event on the film festival calendar. And it’s no surprise that female-directed horror movies will be ever present at this year’s London Film Festival. Not only has Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor taken the festivals by storm this year but in the last five year’s or so, Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, Julia Ducournau’s Raw, Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge and many other great genre movies have been well received and made viewers take a closer look at female directors.

With that in mind, two debut features and a returning genre director will be at this year’s festival.

She Will, directed by Charlotte Colbert, stars both Malcom McDowell and John McCrea but it’s experienced actor Alice Krige and the much less experienced Kota Eberhardt in the two lead roles as Veronica and Desi. The film shows the story of Veronica who after a double mastectomy goes to a healing retreat in Scotland and meets the young nurse Desi. The two develop a bond as Veronica starts to delve into her past, soon discovering mysterious forces that help her dream of vengeance.

A Banquet, directed by Ruth Paxton, tells the story of Holly (Sienna Guillory), a widowed mother whose daughter Betsey (Jessica Alexander) insists her body is no longer her own and in service to a higher power. Once close, Betsey now starts to withdraw from her family and despite refusing to eat, loses no weight. Again using an experienced actor alongside a much lesser experienced actor, A Banquet aims to take on many big issues but telling the story in a horror-filled way.

Mona Lisa and the Red Blood Moon seems the return of Ana Lily Amirpour, the director of the horror classic A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Newcomer Jeon Jong-seo plays Mona, a girl who looks like she wouldn’t hurt a fly but has a psychokinetic ability to control the action of others. With these powers she escapes the psychiatric facility she is locked up in and soon meets street-smart stripper Bonnie (Kate Hudson). Again using her powers, the two and Bonnie’s son are soon on the run with the strip club owners money and the police in tow. It’s a return to genre film-making that many, including myself cannot wait for!

With The Lost Daughter directed Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Power of the Dog directed by Jane Campion and Titane directed by Julia Ducournau some of the headline movies this year, female directed films – especially genre films – will be some of the top ones to look out for.
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The BFI London Film Festival takes place October 6th – October 17th 2021.

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