As part of the rainbow myself, I’m a strong advocate for nuanced representation in cinema. It is an incredibly powerful way to normalize, whether it be sexual orientation, gender, mental illness or skin color – we need more nuanced films!
Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ movies have a harder time receiving a fair rating and often end up with an NC-17, which makes it incredibly difficult to market. Or the director is forced to cut important scenes in order to receive an R rating. Homophobia is very much real in the world of films (I’m looking at you, MPAA). Luckily for us there are some amazing queer movies out there, so let’s take a look at 8 awesome LGBTQ thriller and horror movies for you to enjoy!
Joakim Tier came back with a bang after his movie “Louder than Bombs”, and delivers a masterpiece about entering adulthood, religion, the conflicts within, and the darkness we all carry. Methodically and slowly, Tier builds up a world that with help of Eskil Vogt’s stunning cinematography sets an unsettling stage from the very first scene. This is a movie where the hair-rising horror lays in the shadows without ever being seen.
The opening scene in the movie really sets the scene for what awaits us. We see a father and his daughter in the woods hunting, but when a deer shows up the father chooses to put the aim on his daughter instead of the animal. He wants to pull the trigger, but doesn’t.
Several years later we see Thelma take her steps to adulthood at a University in Oslo. She’s different from her classmates as a result of a very strict christian upbringing. She is still controlled by her parents and her religion, which becomes a conflict within when she meets beautiful, outgoing Anja. This free-spirited woman becomes the start of Thelma’s sexual awakening. The shame that follows trigger epileptic seizures that brings out supernatural, dangerous powers from within.
An ominous movie that burns slowly with plenty of symbolism and visually stunning existential terror. It’s Stephen King’s ‘Carry’ garnished with Scandinavian elegance, but that’s not to say the story doesn’t stand originally on it’s own – because it does, and masterfully so.
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
This is the reality-based story about two teenage girl’s fatal friendship. Director Peter Jackson captures their imaginations, displaying their shared fantasy world as the relentless reality of everyday life constantly intrudes. An amazing combination of visual art and tragic comedy.
The true and much talked about event took place in the 50s when two teenage girls found a soulmate in each other. Their friendship grew strong as they shared their creativity with each other through endless writing, clay sculptures, movies and dreams about Hollywood. They become close, too close for their parents liking, in a time when homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. But separating the two teenagers proves harder than anyone could have thought.
With skilled special effects and clay animations, we become part of Pauline’s and Juliet’s unique, colorful and dramatically twisted world. Two teenage girls high on adolescence, dazed sexuality and naive romance. As we see the teenagers so caught up in their fantasy world the acting can sometimes seem exaggerated, but I think it was an intentional choice from Peter Jackson, adding to the shared theatrical delusion the girls share.
The Skin I Live In (2011)
I know, I know – having this movie as part of a LGBTQ theme is kind of a spoiler in itself, but I promise not to even touch upon why it’s here – you must find that one out for yourself. Almodóvar is not one to stick with a genre, he always implements his own language and such is the case in this horror/thriller- which implements Pedro’s classic dark humour along with absurd scenes. To say that Almodóvar enjoys experimenting with human’s darkness is an understatement.
It’s a hard plot to summarize, but when the movie starts, we see scenes from the present, with the past being untold. Dermatologist Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is holding a woman prisoner in his home. She seems to have accepted her faith, seemingly unconcerned about her captivity and the skin-colored bodysuit she must wear. Dr Ledgard is trying to artificially create durable skin able to withstand everything from an insect bite to fire. An idea born when his wife burned to death after a car crash years earlier.
The Skin I Live In is definitely not a traditional horror movie, being relatively gore-free, calmly paced and clinically restrained. Perfect beauty exists calmly in symbiosis with the incomprehensible terror. But Almodóvar would of course not be himself without elements like an overpotent maniac in tiger costume or a queer theme.
Let the Right One In (2008)
This is an amazing “love story” between a bullied 12-year-old boy and an ancient vampire in the early 80s Blackeberg, Sweden. Let the Right One In is far from a traditional vampire movie. Sure, there’s some blood splatter, and some chills going down the spine – but the heart of the film is the story of alienation, friendship and revenge.
12-year-old Oskar is bullied, plays alone, and fantasies about taking revenge on his tormentors. Oskar’s new neighbor becomes his only friend, which doesn’t change when he realizes that Eli’s true self is actually an ancient vampire. Quite the opposite, Oskar becomes even more intrigued and sees his chances for revenge increase with Eli’s help.
The gender question has been very discussed. In one scene we can see a glimpse of a suggestive scar, when Eli changes into a dress. And when Oskar asks Eli to be his girlfriend, Eli tells Oskar “I’m not a girl”. The book further confirms that Eli was born a boy, but if Eli identifies as non-binary or female remains unclear. Nevertheless, Let the Right One In has become an important movie in queer cinema history!
The Untamed (2016)
This movie is not straightforward in any way, it mixes sci-fi, horror and drama in a masterful way. What looks like a movie about tentacle porn is actually a story about people trapped in unsatisfying lives. The Untamed has much to voice, all the while leaving many questions unanswered.
It’s a story about a crumbling marriage, lost of passion and desire. Alejandra raising two children in an unhappy marriage. Husband Angel is secretly having an affair with her brother Fabian, all the while struggling to come to terms with his own sexuality. And a mysterious creature in the woods, one that can either destroy you or fulfill your most primal desires.
An erotic movie that is sometimes uncomfortable to watch, as it not only showcases our most primal desires but also our tendencies for self destruction. And well, the tentacle sex alien might be off-putting as well, depending on what floats your boat.
Tom at the Farm (2013)
Xavier Dolan is a criminally underrated director who made an incredible movie debut when he was only 20 years old. He has since then established an amazing legacy including movies like Heartbeats, Laurence Anyways and Tom at the Farm. Dolan is a LGBTQ hero who sets the standard for queer cinema across the world.
Tom drives far to the countryside to attend the funeral of his boyfriend Guillaumes who recently died. He’s welcomed by the boyfriend’s mother, who is oblivious to her son’s homosexuality and is still eagerly awaiting a girlfriend to show up. When Guillaume’s brother appears, it becomes clear he’s much more informed than the mother. The brother is committed to keeping it a secret, and through a series of mind games he forces Tom to keep up with his charade.
This is a brave film with a story difficult to balance, but Dolan does it seamlessly, keeping a perfect harmony of sexual innuendo, frustration, grief, and desire. Tom at the Farm is a dark psychological drama about power, control and dependency. A movie that keeps you on the edge throughout, playing with love and hate, city and country, masculinity and femininity, language and ideology.
Monster is a powerful character study written and directed by Patty Jenkins, who with her director’s debut wanted the audience to be able to invest emotionally in a person capable of committing awful crimes. And wow does she succeed, with Charlize Theron’s convincing depiction of a woman broken beyond repair.
The film displays the true story of Aileen (Charlize Theron), the first female serial killer of America. Suicidal and driven to despair, she finds the love of her life, Selby (Christina Ricci) in a bar. Selby is a young naive woman whose strict christian parents disapprove of her newfound love. The romance is just what Aileen needs; she regains a spark for life and a motivation to escape a life embossed by sexual violence. But the scars run deep in Aileen and escaping the demons of a traumatic past proves harder than she thought. When she is forced to sell her body again, the consequences are more dangerous and violent than ever before.
A raw, gripping movie that shows a not so unfamiliar side of USA, characterized by dirty alleyways and dull suburbans dominated by working class and their views on tradition, religion and teenage rebellion. Monster is a haunting story about a woman victim of horrendous deeds who carries out heinous deeds in return. Patty Jenkins masterfully debates the question of what creates the monsters of our society.
What is scarier, the monsters of our society or the society that makes them?
Gangster movies are far from a new thing, even in 1996. Throwing in a lesbian love affair doesn’t really make a movie unique, but it does offer a feminine touch that can make the typical gangster plot all the more intriguing. Such is definitely the case with Wachowski sisters’ directors debut Bound, which took the “damsel in distress” concept and turned it on its head.
Corky makes her way to New York in a worn out truck, recently released from prison. She’s one handy lady and has been hired to renovate an apartment all by herself. The thin walls offer her some insight into the neighbor’s mafia life and it doen’t take long before her and the lady next door, Violet, are in a passionate love affair. Violet wants to escape the mafia life of her husband and together the two women create a cunning plan on how to escape rich and with their hands clean.
Bound is an underrated neo-noir film by the acclaimed Wachowski sisters, which proves they had an edge long before Matrix. The directors play with the concept of trust and risk between humans, which comes to life through Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon with their amazing chemistry and brilliant acting. Some studios declined making the movie after reading the script, saying they’d be interested if Corky was made a man. Luckily the siblings declined, stating the story had been made a hundred times. I’m so glad they did, as a queer gangster movie was just what we needed in that time.
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