In the past, women in horror movies were usually that stereotype of the blonde bombshell scrambling through the woods, suddenly tripping and falling right before the killer stabs her to death. However, from around the ’70s, we started to see different women in horror, like Jamie Lee Curtis, and so the serious ass-kicking began.
Fast forward to post-2000 and the horror genre is exploding with modern scream queens who will survive their own personal horror at any cost.
1. Katharine Isabelle
Katharine Isabelle started her path to scream queen fame when she appeared in the 2000 horror flick Ginger Snaps as a young girl trying to fight back her inner werewolf urges. And her strong, shocking performance didn’t end there. Isabelle went on to appear in horror movies such as the 2003 Freddie vs. Jason. She further solidified her name as a scream queen when she starred in the title role American Mary, an off-the-wall gore fest about a woman who becomes an extreme body modification doctor.
Why she’s a modern scream queen: Isabelle stands resolute in her macabre truth and looks super sexy doing it.
2. Kristen Connolly
This beautiful redhead first caught our eye when she starred in horror cult classic TheCabin in the Woods as “the virgin.” Audiences fell in love with Connolly because even though her character reminded us of the girl next door, she still managed to kick ass and make it to the shocking conclusion of the film. She went on to star in Barry Levinson’s found-footage horror fest The Bay; the way she ends that movie is the pinnacle of badassery.
Why she’s a modern scream queen: She’s not afraid to beat down the enemy while still looking like a girl we’d want to be friends with.
3. Sharni Vinson
It only took one horror movie for Australian actress Sharni Vinson to prove she has exactly what it takes to be a post-2000 scream queen. She got the notice of horror fans with her unconventional role in the 2011 cult hit You’re Next; as soon as Vinson single-handedly took down a bunch of masked killers, we knew she had what it takes to be a scream queen for the ages.
Why she’s a modern scream queen: She’s subtle, sexy and hella dangerous.
4. Lauren German
You may recognize the lovely Lauren German from Fox’s Lucifer, but before she was fighting crime alongside the devil, she was building her name as a fierce horror heroine. German played Beth, a woman fighting for survival amid sadistic killers in Hostel: Part II, then truly showed what a horror she-ro she could be as Eva, a woman clinging to life in a makeshift underground bunker filled with mad people in apocalyptic psychological thriller The Divide.
Why she’s a modern scream queen: Her intense gaze as she fights against the bad guys is enough to make her a scream queen for life!
(Be warned: Very graphic video below.)
5. Tina Ivlev
It was Tina Ivlev’s performance in 2015’s Bound to Vengeance that solidified her place as an up-and-coming modern-day screamer. Tina plays Eve, a young girl trapped in a rapist’s basement. When she escapes, Eve seeks bloody revenge against her captor.
Why she’s a modern scream queen: Her revenge look is not to be messed with.
6. Naomie Harris
Although Naomie Harris has traded in her horror gear for sleek Bond wear, that doesn’t mean she can’t reclaim her spot on the throne as a modern-day scream queen. Who could forget her performance in 28 Days Later… alongside Cillian Murphy? As Selena, she was somehow able to simultaneously kick infected ass while keeping her humanity.
Why she’s a modern scream queen: Her rich, intense performance in one of the greatest zombie movies of all time keeps hope alive that she will return to her horror roots very soon.
7. Mary Elizabeth Winstead
While Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a versatile actress, she has deep roots as a young and passionate scream queen. She gives 1000 percent in every role she’s in, whether playing a frightened scientist (The Thing) or a teenager trapped on a murderous rollercoaster (Final Destination 3). Yep, Winstead sure knows how to deliver a chilling performance.
Why she’s a modern scream queen: Her recent performance as a woman held hostage by a paranoid maniac in 10 Cloverfield Lane reminds us why she’ll always be on our list as a scream queen for years to come.