With the release of Blumhouse’s rebooted Halloween just a couple of days away, studio head Jason Blum has been doing his usual round of interviews touting the studio’s success. But rather than letting Blum rest on the laurels of Get Out and Halloween, Matt Patches of Polygon asked Blum about a less flattering aspect of Blumhouse’s famous production model: Why, in the past 11 years of its existence, has Blumhouse never released a horror film directed by a woman? Here’s what Blum said in response:
We’re always trying to do that. We’re not trying to do it because of recent events. We’ve always been trying. There are not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror. I’m a massive admirer of [The Babadook director] Jennifer Kent. I’ve offered her every movie we’ve had available. She’s turned me down every time.
Blum also says he’s been in touch with Honeymoon director Leigh Janiak but was never able to sign her on due to scheduling conflicts—which we could have told him, given that Janiak has been tied up developing a remake of The Craft for Sony for the past couple of years.
And honestly, Jennifer Kent, who just won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, probably is too good for Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare. But Blum apparently offered it to her, given that he says, “I’ve offered her every movie we’ve had available.” (Why Blum is offering Kent pre-existing scripts, and not giving her money to develop her own, is another question.) It’s an uncharacteristically obtuse move from a normally savvy producer, so just to clarify: Karyn Kusama is also too big for those “$10 millon or less” projects, as are Julia Ducournau, Ana Lily Amirpour, or any of the other high-profile directors who usually appear on “women in horror” lists.
Don’t get us wrong; they’re all great directors. But reaching out to a couple of successful filmmakers you probably knew on some level were going to turn you down is not a substitute for developing new talent. And while it’s also good that, as IndieWire points out, women have directed a handful of non-horror genre films for Blumhouse—like Catherine Hardwicke’s Plush (2013) and The Lie, an upcoming thriller from The Killing director Veena Sud—there’s no real excuse to close off your studio’s signature genre, and the career pipeline that comes with it, to half the population given the numbers of women who are very much inclined to direct horror movies, thanks.
With that in mind, here are 10 female horror directors who either just completed their first feature, have yet to make a feature, or have been directing features in obscurity for years now. Regardless, they’re all perfectly positioned to direct a Blumhouse horror film.
Gigi Saul Guerrero
A writer and director born in Mexico City, Guerrero moved to Vancouver to study film, and ended up working in the video game industry (at Capcom Games, specifically). She’s directed more than a dozen gory, grindhouse-inspired short films, as well as segments in the horror anthology films Mexico Barbaro (2014), ABCs Of Death 2.5 (2016), and the upcoming anthology 28. She also co-founded the delightfully named Luchagore Productions.
For more than 10 years, Gevargizian has worked as a hairstylist in Kansas City. But at night, she directs independent horror shorts, as well as running the long-running indie-horror showcase Slaughter Movie House. She even has her own production company, Sixx Tape Productions. Her 2016 short “The Stylist,” which is currently streaming on Shudder, is one of the most stylish horror shorts we’ve seen in recent years, and could easily be developed into a feature.
A writer, director, producer, production designer, and even makeup artist, Izzy Lee is an independent horror studio unto herself. She’s directed 13 horror shorts over the past five years, the most recent of which—the holiday-themed horror-comedy short My Monster—stars horror mainstay Brea Grant and has played at festivals from L.A. to London.
Wexler’s debut feature, The Ranger, is a wildly entertaining punk-rock slasher throwback made on a tiny independent budget, just the sort of thing Blumhouse purports to specialize in. The Ranger had a limited theatrical run, so maybe Blum didn’t see it then, but he’ll have a chance to catch up with it when it debuts on Shudder next year.
After directing segments in horror anthology films including 2016’s Southbound (a clip from Benjamin’s segment in which is embedded above) and last year’s XX, Benjamin is finally working on her first feature, the sci-fi thriller Body At Brighton Rock. She’s also been outspoken about her desire to work on bigger-budget studio projects—and her frustration at not getting hired to direct them—so she’d presumably pick up the phone if Blum called.
A former editor of horror magazine Rue Morgue, Vuckovic became a buzzed-about name on the indie horror scene with her debut short film, “The Captured Bird” (2012). Alongside Roxanne Benjamin, she directed a segment in the all-female horror anthology XX, and her debut feature, Riot Girls, is currently in post-production and is similarly highly anticipated.
Another journalist turned filmmaker, Carolyn directed one of our favorite segments in the 2015 horror anthology Tales Of Halloween. (You can see a clip of that above.) She’s also directed a feature, the slow-burn ghost story Soulmate (2013), that won the Mary Shelley International Award for Best Director at the Fantafestival in Rome.
Last year, Cooper was among a small group of filmmakers selected to develop her feature-length script The Sound Of Darkness as part of the streaming service’s inaugural Shudder Labs program. That’s just one of the accolades Cooper has won for her work as a horror screenwriter, which also includes the serial-killer creature feature short “Monstrous” and the teen horror-comedy short “All The People I Like Are Dead.”
Stardust worked as an assistant to Jason Blum on more than a dozen films made between 2011 and 2016. During that time, she also directed five horror shorts. (She’s made two indie features and another short since then.) So why was it Fangoria that gave Stardust her big break directing the upcoming Satanic Panic, described as “an After Hours-esque horror comedy with a dash of gore”?
UPDATE: After the publication of this article, Stardust went on Twitter to clarify that Blum had helped her secure directing gigs after she left her position as his executive assistant, and that Blumhouse had financed her film All That We Destroy, an upcoming entry into Hulu’s horror anthology series Into The Dark.
The Soska Sisters
Jen and Sylvia Soska are perhaps the biggest names on this list, and the Vancouver duo is currently in post-production on a remake of David Cronenberg’s Rabid. That being said, their style falls on the more commercial end of the horror spectrum, and they did make a movie for WWE Films (See No Evil 2). Their style would be a wonderful fit for Blumhouse, if Blum would just hire them.