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10 Female Revenge Movies

I’ve noticed a few themes in female revenge movies. In the main, vengeance is usually visited upon men. Sorry, lads! It often has something to do with some kind of sexual misconduct on the part of said chap… and it gets pretty gruesome.
We also see women being pitted against one another: competing for fame/love/popularity. This often means there are fewer redemptive moments and the line between “good” and “bad” blurs, making for a more uncomfortable watch.
Then there’s the woman whose family was messed with. These women have the most feral, powerful energy of the bunch – they have nothing left to lose and will happily die in the process of exacting revenge.
Now that the gals are all here, what are we waiting for?

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane (1962)

Female revenge movies headed by what everf happened to baby jane - image still

A film so iconic that its very name has become synonymous with deranged women. This motion picture brought together two of the biggest Hollywood stars from the Golden Age, using their rivalry as its USP. During their careers, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis’ were pitted against one another by the system and became almost more famous for this than any of their individual work – I highly recommend diving into the excellent FX series FEUD for further details.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane tells the story of an ageing actress who holds her paraplegic sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion. The two sisters have risen and fallen from grace in the public eye over many years, and the resentment between them leads to horrifying consequences when they are thrown together. That’s where the revenge part comes in…. Any film which starts with a creepy child actor singing songs about “Daddy” is worth a gander, and this classic is no exception.
Director: Robert Aldrich

Carrie (1976)

Scene from the film Carrie. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

If you hear the words “they’re all gonna laugh at you” and shudder, then you’ve seen Carrie. The story of a shy misfit who is bullied at school will send shivers down your spine and chill your blood in the BEST way. Sissy Spacek’s delicate porcelain features embody Carrie in a way it’s impossible to imagine anyone else doing.

Carrie is the butt of every joke and is even mistreated by her scarily religious Mother. When all her troubles come to a head-on Prom Night, the retribution is swift, horrifying and dare I say it… justified?! When a film is been imitated, referenced and parodied as much as this one, you know it is a true classic.

Years before Scarface or The Untouchables, Brian De Palma broke out with this adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Even before the novel became a success, de Palma was desperate to make the film and it began life as an underfunded indie… A passion project which paid off and made him a commercially viable name in Hollywood. It is now considered one of the finest horror films ever made – with good reason. It’s an absolute cracker.
Director: Brian de Palma

9 to 5 (1980)

Image from the movie Nine to Five. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

You weren’t expecting Dolly Parton to pop up on this list, were you? Be honest. But here she is, as splendid as ever as a put-upon secretary who befriends two other disgruntled employees at Consolidated Companies – a workplace as generic and dull as the name suggests. The three pals soon realise how angry they are at their boss, Franklin Hart Jr (has there ever been a more entitled 80s Ivy League name?!) who is a misogynist pig of the highest order. He hits on Doralee (Dolly), belittles Judy (Jane Fonda) and undervalues Violet (Lily Tomlin). Big Mistake. Big. Huge.

The revenge they carry out on Mr Hart is not only cunning and appropriate to the level of his crimes, but it is downright hilarious too. Watching that man swinging on a leather harness, arse in the air, from his own bedroom ceiling is a sight that never fails to make me hoot.

Lest we forget, Dolly wrote the theme song for this film, which as we now know, has become an anthem for the daily grind. She even penned a stage musical of 9 to 5, which was equally brilliant. Just another reason why Dolly is everything and needs to be President of the World. (That’s a real job, right?)
Director: Colin Higgins

Batman Returns (1992)

Scene from the film Batman Returns. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

If Selina Kyle isn’t the sexiest vengeful feline of all time, I’ll eat my furball. Michelle Pfeiffer made this role iconic after Annette Bening was fired for getting pregnant. Oops, did I just make it unsexy? Well, sadly, that’s Hollywood – behind every seductress is a tale of injustice – ’twas ever thus.

However, we must focus on the positives here and there are many. An excellent sequel by Tim Burton to his 1989 smash hit, this film is regarded by some as the better of the two. Due in no small part to Pfeiffer’s turn as the meek and jumpy secretary who transforms into a deliciously deranged anti-heroine, hell-bent on revenge against those who killed her family. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing right now, at least check out the “Meow” clip.

One thing is for sure – no CGI in the world could ever top these gothic gems from Gotham. Tim Burton at his best.
Director: Tim Burton

Audition (1999)

Image from the movie Audition. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

I think it is fair to say that few female revenge movies are as graphic as this one. Just mention the title to your nearest film buff and watch their skin crawl. This Japanese thriller follows Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a widower who decides to start dating again. His first mistake is listening to his film-producer friend (Jun Kunimura) who persuades him to stage an audition as a way to find love. Someone should have warned this Weinstein-wannabe… oh no, wait. He should have known better. In any case, Aoyama begins the process of finding a new wife and, well… let’s just say he probably should have stuck to good old fashioned courtship to meet women.

The woman he fancies turns out to have a thirst for revenge which goes beyond what most of us would like to imagine. I’ll just say one word: torture. Yep, it goes there. And then some. Suffice to say, this should be educational viewing for any future perverts who think the casting couch is a way to fulfil their fantasies/meet women.
Director: Takashi Miike

Hard Candy (2005)

Scene from the film Hard Candy. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

Not dissimilar in theme from Audition, Hard Candy is a story of 14 year old Hayley’s (Elliot Page) revenge on an older man, Jeff (Patrick Wilson) whom she suspects of being a sexual predator. She meets him in a coffeehouse, goes home with him and takes it from there, starting with drugging him and tying him to a chair so she can find out the truth of his crimes. Page’s performance is sublime – the way she flips from ingenue to antagonist is, frankly, terrifying. And again, we’re forced to ask ourselves, did he ask for it? The cat and mouse thriller is pacy, tense and mostly contained within the house – it was shot in eighteen days for a budget of $1million and goes to show that great filmmaking does not require a huge budget – just a fantastic idea, tight script and excellent actors. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?!
Director: David Slade

Prevenge (2016)

Image depicting the movie Prevenge. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

Alice Lowe is a name you may know, or if not you’ll undoubtedly recognise her face as one of the funniest women in Britain. She began her career in cult classic shows such as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and has gone on to write and make her own movies in recent years. Her humour is blacker than midnight, left field and downright hilarious. Prevenge is a film she made about pregnancy, while she was pregnant and after childbirth – after her daughter Della was born, baby appeared in the film too. Inspired yet?

Prevenge tells the story of a woman who decides to exact revenge on the people she considers responsible for the death of her husband. It’s a slasher film that portrays everything we have come to expect from Lowe, including a mesmerising central performance. Totally unique, brilliantly grotesque and, just for good measure: a super-smart commentary on prenatal mental health.
Director: Alice Lowe

Revenge (2017)

Image from the movie Revenge. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

A film so outrageous and lush that I spent much of it writhing in my seat. I saw it at the cinema, which was definitely the right decision. Watching it is a visceral experience, with colours dialled up to eleven, gore aplenty and tension like you wouldn’t believe.

This revenge story follows Jen, a strikingly beautiful woman who takes a romantic getaway with her rich boyfriend in a high-end house in the desert. So far, so privileged. Until his two sleazy mates show up unannounced for a hunting trip… you can imagine how that plays out. Except, you can’t…because Fargeat takes things further than you can possibly imagine. Unfortunately for her assailants, Jen survives the trauma and soon begins a relentless quest for bloody revenge. Bloody being the operative word… some serious gasp out loud moments here with prosthetic wounds that are simultaneously horrifying but impressive that someone could have made them.
Director: Coralie Fargeat

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Still from the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

Frances McDormand, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Lady McD can do no wrong when it comes to performance, and Three Billboards is a fine example. This film is fantastic, but without her could be nothing at all. She carries it with the weight of her nuanced portrayal of Mildred Hayes, a woman who refuses to give up searching for her daughter’s rapist and murderer – we would all do the same, but she does it with style and verve which is unmatched.

Starting with: covering the titular Three Billboards in incendiary messaging, to put pressure on the local cops. Not only does she throw expletive bombs around in her signature deadpan style, but her simmering rage also pervades every movement, every look and every scene she is in. She is funny and completely heartbreaking at the same time and I for one would not mess with her. She also looks SO cool in a boiler suit/headscarf combo which would make most people appear slightly fatuous. How does she do it all? It’s a gift, I think – the kind of talent which just can’t be taught.

The fantastic supporting cast in the form of Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson – you know when these two powerhouses rock up, it’s about to get really interesting.
Director: Martin McDonagh

The Nightingale (2018)

Image from the movie Nightingale. Relating to the article 10 Female Revenge Films

After her huge success with The Babadook, Jennifer Kent proved herself once again to be an exceptional filmmaker with this tale of a young Irish convict, Clare (Aisling Franciosi), who chases a British officer through Tasmania, hell-bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence the man committed against her family. On the way, she enlists the services of Aboriginal tracker Billy, who is traumatised from his own violence-filled past. This is a film so disturbing in it’s portrayal of violence that Sam Clafin reportedly apologised to the audience at Sundance London before the screening!

Fransiosi shines in this visceral role and will make you root for Clare throughout. Perhaps it’s best not to take this film on if you have a weak heart or don’t like blood… but if you can stomach it, damn is it an incredible piece of work
Director: Jennifer Kent

Female Revenge Movies

I’ve always liked the revenge genre…if you could call it a genre. There is something deeply human about rooting for a character who is making someone pay for wrongdoing. It’s lawless, it’s messy and it’s morally questionable. But it’s SO satisfying, especially when it is exacted by a woman.

So there you have it: don’t mess with the wrong woman. You might end up mutilated, broken and left for dead.

OR just don’t mess with any woman because, you know… it’s nasty. If you would like to join the conversation, please do jump in! Get in touch – or on our socials.

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