We all know what a horror story is. But are the tales of terror we call “universal” really just manifestations of male anxiety? As more and more women take control of the narrative, not only playing victims, “final girls” and witches, but by presenting their own, very different perspectives on terror, the genre has become as exciting as it’s ever been. Join brilliant creators, writers, producers, directors, and actors Kate Siegel, Jennifer Reeder, and Stewart Thorndike in a conversation with Caryn Coleman as they share how they’ve explored their frightening visions and brought them into the world.
Jennifer Reeder was recently named by Bong Joon-ho as a filmmaker to watch in the 2020s. She constructs personal fiction films about relationships, trauma, and coping that borrow from a range of forms including after-school specials and amateur music videos. These films have shown at festivals and museums around the world, including Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, and The Whitney Biennial. Perpetrator premiered at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival. Sight and Sound says of this film: “Assuming the mask of a slasher/superhero film to critique a patriarchal system that feeds on the exploitation of women, Jennifer Reeder’s fifth feature is funny, freaky and full of feeling.” And The Playlist claims that “Jennifer Reeder has cemented her status as a horror doyenne with her fourth feature film.”
Knives and Skin, premiered at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival and was released theatrically by IFC Films. The Hollywood Reporter praised the film as the arrival of a “boldly original voice”. Reeder's Night’s End, with Michael Shannon, is a Shudder Original and premiered on the platform in March 2022. She directed a segment for horror anthology V/H/S/94, which she co-wrote with David Bruckner (The Night House and Hellraiser), and premiered at Fantastic Fest.
Reeder’s first feature, Signature Move, premiered at SXSW and won the Grand Prize at the 2017 Outfest in Los Angeles. Her shorts can be seen on The Criterion Channel. She has been an advisor at the Sundance Indigenous Program and is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including the USA Fellowship, the Alpert Film Award residency at MacDowell Colony, a Creative Capital Grant, and the SFFIM/Rainin Foundation award.
Stewart Thorndike makes feminist genre films. Stewart’s second feature film, Bad Things, will premiere in competition at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. It stars Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef and Molly Ringwald. Her debut feature Lyle, a queer horror film starring Gaby Hoffmann, premiered in 2014 and continues to play at festivals. She earned her MFA at NYU and is a recipient of the San Francisco Film Society’s Women Filmmaker Fellowship for women in genre. Thorndike is currently working on her third feature, Frigid, a slasher film with older women.
Actress and Screenwriter Kate Siegel is best known for her critically acclaimed starring role as Erin Greene in the Netflix limited series Midnight Mass (2022 Critics Choice Nominee – Best Limited Series). Prior to this, she is recognized for her roles in The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor and Oculus. She also starred in and co-wrote the Netflix thriller film Hush. Kate most recently appeared in the HBO Max series The Time’s Traveler’s Wife, and up next will reteam with Netflix starring in The Fall of the House of Usher series which is based on the Edger Allan Poe short story of the same name.