All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Daniel Siegel

Advisory Committee Members

Margaret J Jessee

Jaclyn Wells

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


This thesis aims to investigate the role of female characters in three recent horror indie films: It Follows, Hereditary, and The Witch. Current criticism of these films regale them as women-forward stories of what it means to struggle with mental illness, religious beliefs, or long-held virtues of womanhood. Before analyzing the relations of power between male and female characters in these films and their placement in a patriarchal dystopia or matriarchal utopia, the horror film genre as a whole is discussed to bring context to the prevailing attitudes against horror films for their overt violence or sexualization of female characters. Analysis of these films includes film studies and gender studies research on film language, the male gaze, and the precarity of gender identity. Character studies of the main female protagonists are juxtaposed to their male counterparts, and the endings of these films are questioned for their coded “happy endings,” despite the level of violence, both sexual and not, both female and male characters endure over the course of the films. Ultimately, these films have contributed to the changing horror landscape that pushes back against exploitative female nudity or violence.



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