5 Perfect Shots From The Women Behind The Horror Anthology ‘XX’

By  · Published on February 16th, 2017

The women behind the thrilling anthology share their favorite blood-curdling shots.

Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

As part of our ongoing series that explores the frames that have inspired the filmmakers of today, we’ve invited the five women behind the new horror anthology XX (which hits theaters this weekend) to each share One Perfect Shot from thrillers they found to be formative. It’s our chance to look at what frightens and inspires a few of the badass ladies who are crafting today’s horror landscape.

For more on XX, watch the trailer at the bottom of the page or check out Rob Hunter’s review of the film from Sundance and Jamie Righetti’s in-depth conversation with three of the filmmakers.

Karyn Kusama

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
DP: Daniel Pearl
| Director: Tobe Hooper

“Few horror films are as viscerally disturbing as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as much for the agony endured by its young victims as the nihilism exhibited by its primary antagonist, Leatherface. Like a grown child who doesn’t understand the world around him (and wouldn’t have the capacity to empathize with it even if he did), Leatherface swings his chainsaw in a defiant, ineffective rage at the end of this classic film: reminding all of us that his violence traps and stunts him as it terrorizes others. If any image makes me feel the true senselessness of violence, this one is it.”

Roxanne Benjamin

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
DP: Mo-gae Lee
| Director: Jee-Woon Kim

“I love how this shot in A Tale of Two Sisters, lensed by Mo-Gae Lee, emphasizes Kim Jee-Woon’s use of framing to isolate or entrap his characters in a wide open exterior. And in the film he often recreates framing, turning an earlier carefree image into one of horror. Later on, this shot is mirrored by one in which the character lays on her back, bloodied on the floor.”

Jovanka Vuckovic

The Exorcist III (1990)
DP: Gerry Fisher
| Director: William Peter Blatty

“If you’ve seen William Peter Blatty’s underappreciated 1990 Exorcist sequel, based on his book Legion, you know the scene: A long dark hospital corridor. One glorious, locked off master shot. No cutaways. Pure nightmare fuel. A seated security guard is called away as a nurse enters a room across the hall. The guard returns, picks up his hat and exits again and we’re left behind, looking at an empty hallway. A moment later, the nurse emerges, turns out the light, closes and locks the door and walks away when – BOOM – the door opens and the most epic, frightening scene ever captured on celluloid takes place. The scene’s effectiveness lies in the shot choice and timing. We see all of this banal action take place from a distance, the camera totally static, not much of any importance is happening, otherwise we’d be closer, right? We get comfortable, and then Blatty snap zooms in at the precise moment, along with a loud, shrieking music cue, and it’s all over, you’ve crapped your pants and will never sleep again. One perfect shot indeed.”

Sofia Carrillo

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
DP: Guillermo Navarro
| Director: Guillermo del Toro

“The Pale Man and his lair in Pan’s Labyrinth really feels taken from the collective subconscious. It’s a scene of true horror that is also quite enjoyable from a design experience. The Pale Man himself is repulsive but you can’t look away. You’re transfixed and it produces a feeling of being a child again and fear of the monsters who lurk in our imagination.”

Annie Clark

The Piano Teacher (2001)
DP: Christian Berger
| Director: Michael Haneke

“This is a shot of Isabelle Huppert from Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher. No one does human cruelty like Haneke. No one does brutalizer/brutalized like Huppert.”

Watch the trailer for XX below:

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