5 Underrated Female Horror Performances!!!

excision lead in pic

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!

Lina Leandersson from Let The Right One In


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.

Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist


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.

Pollyanna McIntosh from The Woman


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.

AnnaLynne McCord in Excision


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.

Cecile De France from Haute Tension


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.

 
  • doomas10

    No Danielle Harris from H2? Say anything you want about the film but as Annie she brought a fragility over her character which is heartbreaking particularly during her ****spoilers **** death scene. Also, where is Manuela Velasco from Rec? Likable and believable!

    Still, we could pick lots of interesting choices here. However, I thought De France was ok. Nothing exceptional or unique but I could be biased since I really did not like the film.

    • djblack1313

      @doomas10, i agree Danielle, in H2 was amazing. but how can you say Cecile was just ok?!! :)

      • doomas10

        @djblack1313, I know you have a soft spot for her – I love her as a person, but I do mention that I am slightly biased against this film since I do not like it at all :D Perhaps with a second viewing I might be convinced otherwise

        • djblack1313

          LOL. i’m just kidding w/ ya, doomas. i respect your opinion. :)

          • doomas10

            I know you do! I respect yours too ^_^

    • Remy Carreiro

      Great call. She did expand upon the character quite a bit. That is why I love doing these lists. I genuinely enjoy you guy’s opinions on this, and sometimes, your ideas fuel me on to wanna do a follow-up.

    • ThunderDragoon

      Ooh, yes! I thought Danielle Harris did a fantastic job as Annie.

  • djblack1313

    excellent list! Cecile De France IMO is #1. her performance IMO was award worthy. one of the best performances ever, EVER. also…

    Alysson Paradis & Béatrice Dalle from INSIDE.

    Béatrice Dalle & Mylène Jampanoï from MARTYRS.

    • doomas10

      Woa you are starting posting some serious good choices here brother! Yes, all the above are worthy – although their performance I think bare similarities to De France’s (I guess since they are belong to the French wave of modern horror). In a similar manner I would like to add Jane Levy as well. He was spot on in Evil Dead with a far better than the movie deserved performance.

    • Remy Carreiro

      Dalle was only cut from the list because I already wrote up Inside two lists ago, and didn’t want people to think I always relied on same roles and movies, but COMPLETELY agree with you on this one.

  • Jasonicus

    High Tension and that whole shit movie can go fuck itself.

    • Remy Carreiro

      Awesome feedback, brah.
      *laughs

  • A-Devils-Reject

    Thank you for bringing some light to AnnaLynne McCord and Excision. Easily one of my favorite movies of the past few years and McCord was amazing in it.

    I’d also have to put Robin McLeavy from The Loved Ones on here.

    • Remy Carreiro

      Great call about McLeavy. She was a (believable) psycho in every way.

  • joesey

    I totally agree with this list, except for antichrist but that’s b/c i have yet to see it. it’s nice to see some love for Cecille de france.

    • djblack1313

      @joesey, your avatar reminds me Karina Testa from FRONTIER(S) deserves to be on this list. she was awesome in that movie.

  • WalkingDeadGuy

    Tatiana Maslani’s performance in Ginger Snaps 2 is so underrated, her performance as “Ghost” was hauntingly brilliant and gave the film that little extra kick it needed to compete with the originals greatness. Great list BTW!

    • Remy Carreiro

      Thanks, mang!

  • horrorqueen420

    I love this blog. There are so many under rated females in horror. Thanks for posting this. POLLYANNA!!!!

    • Remy Carreiro

      She retweeted this article, so I am sure she read your praise!

  • SuperKilla

    Julie Carmen as Regine in “Fright Night 2″ (1989)

    Dee Wallace in “Cujo” and “The Howling”

    Tamara Feldman as MaryBeth in “Hatchet”

    Jaime King in “My Bloody Valentine” and pretty much everything else she’s done.

    And not really a horror film but
    Lena Headey from Dredd (2012)

    • http://mitchmacready.blogspot.com/ Zombie-Killa

      “Julie Carmen as Regine in “Fright Night 2″ (1989)”

      YES!

      Fright Night 2 is still one of all-time personal favorites, and I know it’s not as good as the original, but Carmen was just fantastic in the sequel. She was the female counterpart for Jerry, and Carmen NAILED that character. And the dance scene with Charley at the party is my favorite scene in the series.

      • SuperKilla

        Definitely a favorite of mine too, Carmen was perfect for the role. And it might not be as good as the original but it was really close.
        And yeah, smart and slick dance scene at the party. The library scene always been a fav of mine.

    • Remy Carreiro

      I wish Lena from Dredd was the Lena in Purge. Would have been a FAR superior movie.

      • SuperKilla

        There’s an angle that’d be worth seeing.

  • lovezoid

    I don’t know if it’s underrated as I know a lot of people love her but I’d nominate Caroline Williams in TCM2. She really was a big part of that film’s appeal for me.

    I also just saw Raze and I firmly believe if they ever feel they have to reboot Die Hard, (which seems inevitable) cast her as Jane McClane.

    • Remy Carreiro

      The Jane McClane comment just won the day.

  • Sick_skwerl

    Great, now I have Lemon Incest in my fucking head.

  • http://mitchmacready.blogspot.com/ Zombie-Killa

    Agreed 110% on Pollyanna McIntosh. I rented The Woman a few years ago, and I bought a few days after, because McIntosh is great.

    I’d like to throw in Amber Heard from The Ward. Overall, I thought the movie was shit (the fuck happened to John Carpenter?), featuring one of the most idiotic plot twists I’ve ever seen, but Heard was really good in it. In fact, without her, The Ward could’ve been a lot worse (if that’s possible).

    For a more recent picks, I would go with Jane Levy from Evil Dead and Sharni Vinson in You’re Next.

    • Remy Carreiro

      I have written so much about Levy’s performance in Evil Dead, I just worried about repeating myself, but totally agree. Yes, Sharni was the best thing about You’re Next and gave the movie some life for sure.

      • http://mitchmacready.blogspot.com/ Zombie-Killa

        I wouldn’t mind more Jane Levy anytime! lol. Sharni was like a mix of a female Rambo and The Terminator in You’re Next, a true show-stealing performance. And she was pretty good in Bait 3D too. Too bad the movie itself was underwhelming, run of the mill shark horror movie crap, IMO.

  • MaryMaria

    Pollyanna was great in The Woman! So much so, that after I watched it, I had to go and draw some fanart, like, pronto! http://manifeststephanie.tumblr.com/post/54302293792/i-watched-the-woman-yesterday-and-had-to-draw

    I haven’t heard of Excision before, but I’ll definitely check it out, now. Awesome!

  • Remy Carreiro

    Awesome art. I know she read this article, so take comfort in knowing she probably saw it, and knowing her, knows how awesome it is. Killer job!

  • Ciristhan

    Thanks for pointing out Excision and The Woman to me. I’m definitely going to watch those. But why would anyone consider the female performances in Haute Tension and Antichrist underrated?!? The former is probably the best known and most loved French extreme movie, and the actress’s performance is unanimously lauded; and the latter is an acclaimed arthouse film. I don’t get it…

    • Remy Carreiro

      WE (as in horror fans) don’t look at them as over rated, but think outside of that scope. You ask 99% of population about either of those movies, and they have not seen them and could give no feedback on the performances.
      Don’t forget, we are amongst our people HERE, but think about out in the world.
      These women get no love.
      How about some f*cking Oscars for these amazing performances?

  • amol

    great list but Morjana El Alaoui from martyrs. seriously that 15 min made me cry.

    • Remy Carreiro

      French actresses deserve their own list. They are all usually jaw dropping in their performances. Totally agree.

  • viking1983

    finally some love for the greatest horror film ever made, haute tension, was beginning to think I was the only person who liked that film on here

  • Astroid_Andy

    Excision is one of my all time favorites. There is something so vulnerable but yet confident and arrogant about Pauline that you can’t help but love her. I cried when she did after hearing her mother say she could not bring herself to love her, I cried the last 15 minutes of the movie at that WTF ending and understood how far she would go to truly earn her mother’s love, only to have pure hatred thrown at her attempt. And the fact she gets off to images of blood, bathtubs of it (much like myself!). I just wish the DVD or Blu had some special features.
    Don’t forget Pamela Springstien as Angela from Sleepaway Camp 2 & 3 (she IS Angela, as Felisa Rose just kind of stared at people and said “meet me at the beech after the social”. FR has a place in my heart, but my heart belongs to PS.)

  • KSE1977

    Let the Right One in? Seriously? Way to really put yourself out on a limb there. Very bold choice. Now choose a performance of say…..Jennifer Love Hewitt from I know What you Did Last summer or Linday Lohan and I know who killed me and you would be going out on an insane limb, but at least you would be risking something. The idea with lists like these is to at least try and think outside of the box, which you did do a little with your list, but your first choice was just uninspired as most places I have looked adored that movie and especially the performances.