Lightning Review

The Science of Women in Horror by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence


The Science of Women in Horror

by Meg Hafdahl

The Science of Women in Horror is disappointing in the sense that there’s very little science in it. Instead, it’s an overview of women as depicted in horror, along with interviews with women who have worked behind the camera. As such, it’s pretty basic, but it did add several films to my To Be Watched List.

The cover promises “The Special Effects, Stunts, and True Stories Behind Your Favorite Fright Films,” but very little of that is in the actual book. Instead, it’s organized in sections by common character and plot tropes often applied to women in horror (“The Gorgon,” “The Innocent,” “Revenge,” etc). It contains a number of chapters, each with a focus on a single film, and uses them to explore these concepts. It makes for a decent overview of female characters in horror movies, and using specific movies to discuss characters gives the conversation a lot of specificity and entertainment quality that I enjoyed.

Although this book touches on issues such as transphobia, homophobia, racism, and discrimination within the industry, it doesn’t go deep at all – everything in this book is very surface level. For example, I would have expected the chapter about Buffy the Vampire Slayer to acknowledge its pivotal role in horror history and also discuss its shortcomings, but instead the chapter is completely laudatory. Also there are several odd errors, such as incorrectly describing the protagonist of The Shape of Water as being deaf (she is mute, not deaf). Based on the list of films mentioned in the text of the book and in the bibliography, I felt that the authors of this book demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge of horror, but errors like these made me question the book’s credibility.

By far the most interesting element of this book is the interviews. I truly enjoyed reading the conversations with screenwriters and directors and stuntwomen. Otherwise, this book might work well for readers who are new to horror and want an introduction and overview to some of the different ways that women work in and are portrayed within the horror movie industry. I wobbled a lot between a B- and a C+ when grading this book and I think its success or failure depends largely on the reader’s expectations and desires. It provides a decent, though not-in depth, overview of some of the ways women are depicted in and involved with horror movies. Just don’t go looking for science because there isn’t much.

Carrie S

From scream queens to femmes fatale, horror isn’t just for the boys.

Gothic media moguls Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence, authors of The Science of Monsters, and co-hosts of the Horror Rewind podcast called “the best horror film podcast out there” by Film Daddy, present a guide to the feminist horror movies, TV shows, and characters we all know and love.

Through interviews, film analysis, and bone-chilling discoveries, The Science of Women in Horror uncovers the theories behind women’s most iconic roles of the genre. Explore age-old tropes such as “The Innocent” like Lydia in Beetlejuice, “The Gorgon” like Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th, and “The Mother” like Norma Bates in Pyscho and Bates Motel, and delve deeper into female-forward film and TV including: The Haunting of Hill House Teeth Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Buffy the Vampire Slayer And so much more! Join Kelly and Meg in The Science of Women in Horror as they flip the script and prove that every girl is a “final girl.”

Horror, Nonfiction
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  1. Lisa F says:

    That’s a shame, this is a cool topic for a book.

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