Ask anyone who comes to mind when they think of horror films and odds are the list will include guys like Jason, Michael Myers and Leatherface. While we're being bombarded with resurrections of popular 80s slasher flicks featuring monstrous giants with a mean streak, a new breed of killer has cropped up, the unlikely female. Enormity and a chainsaw are a thing of the past. Nowadays the maniac behind a bloodbath could be a pretty face with a hidden agenda.
It's kind of like Elijah Wood's theory in The Faculty, "If you were going to take over the world, would you blow up the White House 'Independence Day' style, or sneak in through the back door?" That's the approach a new breed of horror films have started taking with their killers. The seven-foot-tall monster brandishing a machete is hackneyed. Mass murderers are growing a pair and I don't mean down there.
Let's begin with every guy's worst nightmare, Dawn O'Keefe (Jess
Weixler) from Teeth. Typically, only men pose a physical threat to horror movie killers. They can sustain a few blows to the stomach and still stagger to their feet to deliver a few punches. Until of course, it comes to their most prized body part. Then they're rendered helpless. Dawn cuts through the crap by exposing their weak spot and simply bites off the family jewels, letting her victims bleed to death. This might sound like it'd scar most male moviegoers for life, but something about it is actually fun. That's the beauty of a horror movie. The event may be terrifying but throw in a few quips and a little sex appeal, and you'll wind up with something more entertaining than unnerving.
The masked gang in The Strangers may be led by a man, but he couldn't have terrorized Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott
Speedman) without the help of his trusty female sidekicks. It's obvious that if a trio of linebackers wearing burlap masks came into your house you'd have no hope, but by teaming a man with two women you still give the victims a fighting chance. It's this hope of escape that keeps you enthralled, a necessary component since The Strangers relies on sheer terror rather than a never ending body count. Interestingly, even with the inclusion of two seemingly weaker enemies, they clearly maintain the upper hand. Whether or not their male associate was part of the team, Kristen and James still wouldn't have a chance.
Thanks to the tween obsession with Twilight, it's becoming harder to imagine vampires as anything but gorgeous actors with fangs.
Guess what? They're evil too! As a matter of fact, they're just as evil as any serial killer; after all they still suck their victims'
blood. The vampire craze might very well be the force pushing the whole female villain trend into overdrive. All female vampires in the Twilight series are glorified glittery killers. Alice (Ashley
Greene) and Rosalie Cullen (Nikki Reed) escape villain denominations because they're vegetarians - or whatever that means - but Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) falls right in line with the rest of them. Her beauty deceives audiences into cooing every time she's onscreen when in fact, it might be a good time to be scared.
The Uninvited is filled with female killers, most notably Rachel (Elizabeth Banks). Nearly every character in the film is charmed by her beauty, even the audience. Beneath that beauty is pure evil and the combination of the two is disturbing but intriguing.
Seeing a character like Rachel terrorizing other people rediscovers that wow factor that horror films of the past have made tiresome. We know the violence Jason and Michael are capable, but when you see the brutality Rachel can unleash, your jaw drops. By the end of the film your chin has practically hit the floor when you realize the most unsuspecting female character is actually the culprit. Anna (Emily
Browning) is not as innocent she seems to be.
Speaking of beauty and sass, who better to topline a movie that feeds on them than Megan Fox? The queen of everything sultry stars as high school hottie gone demonic, Jennifer Check, in Jennifer's Body.
We hear Diablo Cody and Amanda Seyfried have something to do with this film, but all the promotion for Jennifer's Body is focused rather squarely on Megan Fox's, er, body. Amanda Seyfried may be the star, but if you see it, you're seeing it for Fox. Her beauty is always a draw but this film banks on Megan's sexpot good looks in a different way, by turning her into a bloodthirsty man-eater. Even from a woman's perspective, you've got to understand the attraction. Why stare at an ugly oaf like Michael Myers when you could spend two hours with a killer cheerleader like Jennifer?
We want more from our slasher movies. Ticket buyers are no longer content just to be frightened by a movie; they want it all. Horror movies are now more than creepy: they're sexy, funny, and a little lighthearted too. While some may still appreciate the authenticity of a gritty, classic horror film, the masses are looking for horror movies party-style. It's a mix of snappy dialogue, a good soundtrack and, most importantly, an appealing killer. Whether or not audiences respond to Jennifer's Body this weekend, the day of the testosterone-fueled slasher is behind us. Bow before beauty, or you may end up dead.