Horror movies are having a resurgence with more queer people as protagonists, not throwaway supporting characters. They include heroes, villains, and others who fall somewhere in between. With LGBTQ characters taking the lead, queer sexuality is finally being openly shown. It’s no surprise that the horrors of homophobia and anti-LGBTQ hate crimes are often big parts of these films.
In 2021, several horror movies have been released with queer main characters. They range from a centuries-spanning saga about a lesbian witch who’s out for revenge; a murder mystery about a drag nightclub whose gay male customers are being killed; and an eccentric, artsy tale about a queer woman serial killer who is sexually attracted to automobiles.
Below, find nine queer-centric horror movies of 2021 to watch close to or beyond Halloween.
Directed by Amelia Moses; written by Wendy Hill-Tout and Lowell
Anxious pop star Grey (Lauren Beatty) and her live-in girlfriend (Katharine King So) go to the isolated mansion of reclusive music producer Vaughn Daniels (Grey Bryk), who wants to work with Grey in his home recording studio. In this “slow burn” story set in Canada, secrets are eventually revealed — including the reason why vegan Grey is turning into a werewolf.
Out now on digital, VOD, and streaming on Tubi or Vudu
Written and directed by Michael J. Ahern, Christopher Dalpe, and Brandon Perras
This campy, low-budget flick delves into the messiness of the queer scene revolving around a drag club in Providence, Rhode Island, where gay male patrons are being targeted by a serial killer. It’s a whodunit mystery with bickering queens, such as Gloria Hole (Michael McAdam), Janet Fitness (Matthew Pidge), Tragedi (Complete Destruction), and Audrey Heartburn (Paul Bohn). Also in the mix are gay friends/roommates named Dwayne (Wayne Gonsalves) and Brian (co-director Dalpe), as well as a pair of cops named Detective O’Hara (co-director Ahern) and Detective Barry (Sean Murphy), who might be more than just work partners.
Out now on digital and VOD
Fear Street Trilogy
Directed by Leigh Janiak
Based on author R.L. Stine’s book series of the same name, this movie trilogy tells the continuing story of a lesbian witch named Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel), who’s been a legend for centuries. In Fear Street Part 1: 1994 (written by Janiak and Phil Graziadei), a queer teenager named Deena Johnson (Kiana Madeira), who lives in the fictional U.S. city Shadyside, finds out about Sarah while trying to solve the mystery of a string of local murders and dealing with some drama involving her ex-girlfriend Sam (Olivia Scott Welch). Fear Street Part 2: 1978 (co-written by Janiak and Zak Olkewicz) continues Deena’s investigation, which leads to a flashback story about a 1978 campground massacre that provides even more clues about Sarah. Fear Street Part 3: 1666 (co-written by Janiak, Graziadei, and Kate Trefrya) features Deena having a vision of Sarah’s story from Sarah’s perspective.
Out now on Netflix
Directed by Pat Mills; written by Alyson Richards
Renee (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and Valerie (Sarah Allen) are in a fairly new romance with each other when they go to a wedding planning retreat for Valerie’s engaged friends Scott (Munro Chambers) and Connor (Chad Connell) at a queer-friendly bed-and-breakfast in a remote, wooded area of Ontario. Their getaway takes a nightmarish turn when they are attacked by homophobic serial killers lurking in the woods.
Out now on digital, VOD, Showtime, and The Movie Channel
Directed by Courtney Paige; written by Paige, Erin Hazlehurst, and Madison Smith
Someone is killing off the seven members of an all-girls Christian high school clique called the Sins, each of whom represents one of the seven deadly sins. The leader of the Sins is a pastor’s bossy and closeted daughter Grace Carver (Kaitlyn Bernard), who is in a secret romance with Tori Davidson (Jenna Coates), the group’s biggest bully. Grace’s chosen deadly sin is lust, Tori’s chosen deadly sin is wrath, and they turn against group member Aubrey Miller (Brenna Llewellyn), whose chosen deadly sin is pride, when Aubrey is labeled a snitch.
Out now on digital and VOD
Written and directed by Julia Ducournau
In this wildly bizarre story, a mysterious Parisian woman named Alexia (Agathe Rousselle), who works as an exotic dancer at parties, begins dating another exotic dancer named Justine (Garance Marillier). Alexia is hiding some big secrets: First, she’s a serial killer. And second, she has a sexual obsession with automobiles. But that’s not all. Alexia also disguises herself as a man, pretends to be a long-lost relative of a lonely firefighter captain named Vincent (Vincent Lindon), and ends up living with him.Titane won the 2021 Cannes Film Festival’s top prize and is France’s official entry for the Best International Feature category for the 2022 Academy Awards.
Out now in theaters, digital, and VOD
Directed by Sean King O’Grady; written by Max Booth III
Audiences and critics have had divisive reactions to this claustrophobic story about an American family of four who are trapped by mysterious forces in their house’s bathroom. Through flashbacks, it’s revealed that the family’s queer and semi-closeted teenager Melissa (Sierra McCormick) has been casting spells with her girlfriend, Amy (Lisette Alexis), after they became afraid of being outed by a fellow schoolmate.
Out now on digital and VOD
Written and directed by Ryan Glover
Another horror story set in a remote location,The Strings follows singer-songwriter Catherine (Teagan Johnston), who’s gone to her aunt’s coastal cottage to work on some solo material after splitting from her band. While visiting a local farmhouse with a shady past, Catherine gets romantically involved with a photographer named Grace (Jenna Schaefer) — and soon learns the cottage she’s staying in appears to be haunted.
Out November 23 on Shudder
Directed by Dasha Nekrasova; written by Nekrasova and Madeline Quinn
What’s scarier than New York City’s overpriced apartment rentals? For queer college friends Noelle (co-writer Quinn) and Addie (Betsey Brown), it’s experiencing horrifying things after they move in together at an Upper East Side duplex that was reportedly owned by convicted (and notoriously dead) sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Noelle also becomes infatuated with a mysterious young woman (co-writer-director Nekrasova), who seems to know some of the duplex’s darkest secrets. The Scary of Sixty-First had its world premiere at the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival, where the movie won the award for Best First Feature.
Out in theaters on December 17; available on digital and VOD on December 24; premiering on Shudder on a date TBA