I wrote an article recently listing the big franchises that have and haven’t hired female directors to helm their films and TV series. It was pretty disheartening to see the small spattering of women across some of the largest money making conglomerates on the planet. Now it’s October, and officially spooky season, I thought I would turn my attention to some of the biggest Horror movie franchises to see which ones were adding female directors to their properties.
There are plenty of great standalone horror films directed by women, and I’ve previously made a list of my top picks, but this post is going to focus on those franchises with multiple movies raking in millions at the box office.
With 12 films made across 40 years starting with the original in 1978 all the way to the upcoming Halloween Kills set for release in 2020 the Halloween films are probably some of the most iconic films for the spooky season. However out of these 12 films not one has been directed by a woman. The two most recent films were produced by Blumhouse Productions. CEO Jason Blum landed himself in a bit of controversy last year when he suggested that “There are not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror.”  A vast untruth that perhaps indicates why a lot of popular modern horror franchises don’t have female directors.
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
A franchise consisting of 9 films with only one directed by a woman, Rachel Talalay. She directed the 6th and original slated as the last instalment of the franchise Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Rachel then went on to direct Tank Girl in 1995 and now has a very extensive list of TV directing credits on her resume. It is one of the only big horror franchises that seems to have a female amongst its films directors.
THE CONJURING (& EXTENDED UNIVERSE)
There are 3 The Conjuring films with number 3 slated for a 2020 release date but the universe has officially been expanded to include the 3 Annabelle films, The Nun and planned sequel, as well as standalone films The Curse of La Llorona and upcoming The Crooked Man. Out of the total 10 films not one has been directed by a woman. In saying that The Nun sequel and planned The Crooked Man film do not have official director announcements yet so potentially there is still hope.
However, in conjunction with the release of Annabelle: Creation in 2017 Warner Bros and James Wan held a short film competition. Participants of the competition were to make a short film which felt like it could exist within the established Conjuring world. The winning films would be made a part of the shared film universe. One of the winners of this competition Blund’s Lullaby was directed, produced and written by Magda Lindblom and Amanda Nilsson thus making them the only female directors currently part of The Conjuring universe.
From 2004 to 2010 this franchise released a film every single year… not one was directed by a woman. There are two new additions to the franchise Jigsaw from 2017 and another upcoming film currently titled The Organ Donor schedule for a 2020 release. Both also have male directors.
The name that is most common across most horror franchises is James Wan; and whilst I would not deny the guys talent in the genre, is does start to make you wonder how varied the genre can really be with one person kind of running the whole show. The Insidious franchise has a total of 4 films, all directed by men, that have raked in a total of over $500 million at the box office. Blumhouse Productions also have their hand in this franchise, which makes you wonder if women will ever get a go leading a film from these popular horror franchises.
Franchises seem to be the hardest areas for women to crack into but we have started to see more women get involved in superhero franchises, which has become a multi-million dollar genre itself so perhaps there is still hope. Until then though there are still many more standalone films from women directors for you to watch this Halloween or whenever you feel like scaring yourself. Stay tuned for our new list!