There are many elements that need to work in tandem for a horror movie to be memorable. You need a great story at the heart of it, pushing it along. If your story doesn’t work, nothing can save it. Next up, you need a good antagonist. Someone (or something) that will slowly crawl into people’s nightmares and burrow there for a long time after the credits roll. Lastly, you need good performances. Don’t get me wrong, there are many other factors involved (good direction, movie getting proper hype in the press, and so on), but at the heart of that, you need good performances. The kind of performances where the audience forgets they are watching people play pretend. The kind of performances you walk away from wondering if that actor or actress may be a little off. You can have the best story, the best creature design, and the best direction, but if your actors or actresses suck, it will all be for naught.
It was with that idea in mind I decided to compile a list of hugely underrated performances in the genre of horror. Thing is, once I started doing the list, it became very clear to me that I would need to split it into two lists. There were just too many great horror performances to mention just a handful. I also thought it might be cool to separate the list by sex. One list for each gender. I started with females because it is “Women in Horror” month here at BloodyDisgusting. We all know women are a huge part of horror, and more people than just horror fans like is to recognize that. From finals girl to feral killers, here are five hugely underrated performances from women in horror!
I watched this movie in awe the first time I saw it. Every single thing about the movie affected me. But I would say nothing affected me as much as Lina Leandersson as Eli. How does a pre-teen girl convince you that she is actually ages old and tormented? Like, where does that even come from? I ask because I watched Eli in Let the Right One In, and never once thought I was looking at a child acting. You could feel her angst. You could feel her pain. You literally could see the struggle in her eyes. Where the Hell does a little kid get that experience or know how to mine that?
I also want to give huge props to Chloe Moretz in the remake. She definitely did the character justice, but I would have felt wrong not giving the credit to the first actress who portrayed her.
By the way, you guys ever read the sequel, “Let The Old Dreams Die”? I think you should.
Say what you want about director Lars Von Trier. This is not about him. Say what you want about this film, and all the lines it (so beautifully) crosses. Say what you want about Willem Dafoe spewing blood from his wee wee. I know this movie incites discussion, and that is fine. What I think few can argue is that Charlotte Gainsbourg gives a performance in this movie that could have very well broken any other actress. She is asked to go to proverbial places in this film that are so dark and twisted, it seems it would be very hard to come back from. She plays a downward spiral so palpably, you can feel yourself circling the drain with her. If the Oscars weren’t so f*cking afraid of horror, she could have walked away with one for just what she committed to film for this role. A harrowing, unforgettable role to say the least.
Also, let’s none of us forget where she came from.
Um, excuse me while I go stab out my eyes, puncture my ear drums, and weep for infinity.
Okay, I will admit, I am SERIOUSLY biased here. Pollyanna McIntosh was my first professional interview I wrangled and made happen myself. Quite a proud accomplishment of mine, and she was an absolute doll to me. Kind and charismatic, she won me over immediately. But the whole reason I hounded her for that interview was how awed I was by what she did in the Lucky McKee movie, The Woman. It takes a certain amount of courage to agree to be tied, (faux) raped, and (faux) abused for a performance, and that is just what Pollyanna did. But if that was all she did she would not be on the list. Sadly, horror has done that to many women. No… she did so much more.
What Pollyanna did that certainly set her apart from many other performances I have seen is she truly made me believe she was feral. She acted with NO dialogue, using only her eyes. Do you even understand how brutally difficult it would be to convey EVERYTHING you are feeling with only your eyes? Yet, she does it. She looks differently at the daughter than she looks at the son. You can see moments when it looks like she has accepted her fate, and then you see these sparks of revenge behind those eyes. Again, all conveyed without words.
Remember when the acclaimed Jodie Foster tried to do that for the movie Nell, and it ended up being unwatchable? Well, that Oscar winner could learn a thing or two from Pollyanna McIntosh, in my honest opinion.
I have spoken of this film on numerous occasions across multiple sites, and there is a solid reason for that. AnnaLynn McCord, as Pauline in Excision, easily gives one of my favorite horror performances of the past few years. She is an incredibly nuanced character that bounces back and forth from broken to confident with an energy rarely seen on screen. The film is a black comedy with horror roots but, at the heart of it, it’s an utter tragedy. And it’s McCord who drives that home.
What makes it all even more remarkable is that this is an actress best known for being in the 90210 remake. She is, pardon how shallow I sound here, an absolute fox. To take that image and then take a risk as big as playing a girl like Pauline is incredibly brave. I mean, she takes out her tampon at one point in the film and smells it. Yes, it is disgusting, but it is that sense of morbid curiosity that made the character feel so real and believable.
Also, as dark and satirical as most of the movie is, what she conveys in those final fifteen minutes is just so heart breaking and real feeling, it drives the whole film home. Oh, and her Elizabeth Bathory fantasy sequences were staggeringly cool. I have to link them because of boobies.
Ah, to end with the movie that has the greatest beginning in horror cinema. Well, one of them, anyway. Another scene I have to link cuz, well, decapitated blow job (watch below).
First thing that made this movie so good was the simple fact that when it came out, Cecile De France was very much France’s Natalie Portman. Can you imagine Natalie Portman as the lead in this movie? Maybe after Black Swan you can, but don’t forget about that ending. I, for one, cannot imagine it. But just knowing that makes me appreciate what Cecile does here even more.
There will be spoilers from here on, so if you have not yet seen this movie, no excuses. Go watch it right now.
For the rest of us, what made Cecile’s performance so amazing is the simple fact that she needs to convey three things in this film, that all stand in bitter opposition to one another. In one sense, she has to be the perfect victim. That is the first half hour of the film, when she silently watches most of her friend’s family get slayed.
Next up, she needs to convey to us that she is a hero, suddenly being brave enough to try to save her friend (whom we slowly figure out she is in love with), even though we all come to find out she is only trying to save her from, well, her. That is the last thing she needs to convey. A frothing amount of madness. The kind of madness that bubbles over so much, you cannot stop it. Across the course of the film, that is exactly what she does. It is as if she plays three different people in this movie. Well, she does play two.
Oh, and you can hate the ending, but that takes nothing away from the powerhouse performance she delivers across the entirety of the movie.
Alright, fellow mutants and miscreants, thank you for reading. If you dig this kind of madness, head over here and toss up a like, then go here and delve even deeper into my rotted brain.