St. Vincent's Film Directing Debut 'XX' Is The Feminist Horror Anthology We Need
That otherworldly wood-nymph who just happens to be really handy with a guitar, St. Vincent, is launching her film career in the coolest possible way, which is, well, very St. Vincent of her. Like a more melodic Miranda July, the musician is flipping the bird at the very idea of limiting herself to one art form. Yep, St. Vincent is making her film directing debut in an admirably feminist fashion. Prepare to feel not great about that time you interned for no money at a film festival solely dominated by straight white males doing bad Scorsese rip-offs. As I've heard people do.
The artist is directing one-fourth of the horror film XX, which boasts four horror stories, each directed by a woman (other directors include Karyn Kusama, Jennifer Lynch, and Jovanka Vuckovic) and each starring a female lead. The segment St. Vincent co-directed and co-wrote alongside Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound, V/H/S) is titled "Happy Birthday," and the trailer is so pants-wettingly creepy that honestly? I haven't — and won't — watch it all the way through. It gives me the terror sweats. Which I think means it's great if you like horror.
It's also great if you like equality, which, given our audience, I'm going to go ahead and assume you do. Statistics on female directors are some of the most depressing things you can read. In 2015, women made up only 9 percent of directors among the top 250 domestic grossing films, and they comprised just 12 percent of directors among the top 500.
Let me make those statistics even more horror-film terrifying for you: according to Refinery 29, those 2015 statistics on female directors are "on par with the female director stats from 1998."
While St Vincent seems leery of being her work being categorized according to her gender, she is clearly aware of the absence of women in the industry. She told Rolling Stone,
I don't like the idea of ‘female' being any indicator of the art that is within, but at the same time we exist in world that tries to marginalize half of the population.
Senior vice president of acquisitions John Von Thaden at Magnet Releasing had a similar rationale for the film's existence, telling Rolling Stone, "We found ourselves hungry for female voices, and, if we felt that way, audiences probably do too." Given the success of movies like Jennifer's Body (Diablo Cody) and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour), I'd say Von Thaden has a point. Sadly, numbers of female directors in the genre appears to be lacking.
Like all aspects of the film industry, the horror genre remains male-dominated. Hopefully, as genre films about women continue to be commercially successful, we will see more films being made by women as well.
But, hopefully, given the buzz XX is already meeting with, with a 94 percent "want to see" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this could be set to change. Sure, there's a long way to go. But fingers crossed XX takes us on the first step towards a more female-friendly film industry.