WiHM 12: Iconic Female Characters in Horror

Iconic Female Characters in Horror

By Liz Butcher


This year for Women in Horror month, I wanted to give a shout out to some of the female characters that have both inspired and terrified me during my life. Either in literature, film or both, there are a handful of these characters that stayed with me long after I closed the book or left the cinema. These women made me want to sleep with the light on (if I could sleep at all) and yet I also found them inspiring as I strive to one day write a character that will impact a horror fan as much as these women impacted me.

Jennet Humfrye–Also known as The Woman in Black, Jennet would have to be one of my all-time favourite scary women. The whole gothic feel of this story adds to the depth of her tortured soul, as this bitter and twisted woman seeks revenge for the death of her son. Cloaked in black, Jennet would seep into the minds of the local children and convince them to commit suicide in horrific ways—a concept that always made me squirm with its terrifying simplicity. There was something about her tortured nature that made her so intriguing—if she wasn’t so malicious. 

Red Thomas–In my opinion, this character that made the movie, Us. Those wide, unblinking eyes staring at her doppelganger as tears trickled down her face. Then there was the way she spoke in that raw, inhuman voice that was truly creepy—then add that wide, maniacal grin… if that doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will. 

Samara–Who didn’t feel sorry for the young girl whose mother threw her down the well in The Ring? That is, until she starts crawling through television screens to literally scare people to death, seven days after they watched her mysterious video. I’m not going to lie, but the character of Samara freaked me out and I’m so glad that in today’s age of smart televisions, we no longer have that scary-ass static to make our hearts jump into our throats! For me, I think it was the way her long black hair hung over her face, as she spoke in that sing-song voice…

Annie Wilkes–Talk about iconic. You can’t go past Kathy Bates in the Stephen King classic, Misery. I have one word for you—sledgehammer. While not scary in the creepy sense like the preceding characters, Annie is a special kind of scary. The seemingly normal, albeit friendly, persona on the outside is only a smokescreen for the crazy person beneath the surface. I especially loved the way she would rant when unhappy about how his story unfolded.


Esther–Horror movies featuring children are always next level creepy, but the character of Esther in Orphan went above and beyond. I don’t want to give up any spoilers on the off chance there’s anyone who still hasn’t seen it, but suffice to say, the horror of this character lies in the very adult behaviour that your brain struggles to compute as you watch her. She messes with your head in true horror movie style.

So here’s a salute to these epic characters—thank you for keeping me scared and inspired!

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