Lately, there's a growing trend in cinema of female rage movies, which involve unusually explosive depictions of women.
Throughout history, women have been viewed as—and forced to be—passive, sensitive, fragile, and submissive. Back in the day, feisty women were locked up for mental illness and hysteria. Today, it comes in the form of "Is it that time of the month?"
But movies about feminine rage tell a different story. These characters scream, shout, plead, hurt, scheme, and fight against oppression, against betrayal, against pain, or against men in general.
These women aren't delicate or bedbound with melancholy. Instead, they're ruthless, violent, and unafraid of their temper.
Here are the best female rage movies where women absolutely lose it, and often for very good reasons.
11. Marriage Story (2019)
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson
Drama, Romance (2h 17m)
Have you seen the meme where Adam Driver is shouting 'til he's red in the face? That scene comes from Marriage Story! But he's not even the most interesting part. Who's he screaming at?
As it turns out, Scarlett Johansson is opposite Adam Driver in Marriage Story, and she puts in an equally intense, equally red-faced performance as his ex-wife Nicole.
The screaming match comes two-thirds of the way through the film when the couple—both having lost their voices in their marriage—scream to get their points across (without a mediator this time).
The empty walls are there with us as we listen in on their climatic argument, which director Noah Baumbach choreographs like a dance sequence. This time, it's the man who's painted as the hysterical—all without downplaying Nicole's own rage.
10. Titane (2021)
Directed by Julia Ducournau
Starring Vincent Lindon, Agathe Rousselle, Garance Marillier
Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi (1h 48m)
Sharon Stone, who played the vicious lesbian icon Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct, thanked the director of Titane for "capturing female anguish and rage... on film."
That director is Julia Ducournau, the second-ever female filmmaker to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. She bagged it for writing this arthouse body horror about a woman who's pregnant with a baby car.
Wait, what? Let's rewind a bit.
Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) has a titanium plate in her skull, which evokes in her an attraction to cars. It also makes her emotionless as she spirals into a sexy, surreal, darkly bizarre rampage of murder.
Yet while she might be devoid of emotion, Titane itself is heavy on the feels. Impressive for a body horror flick about a sociopath!
9. Hard Candy (2005)
Directed by David Slade
Starring Patrick Wilson, Elliot Page, Sandra Oh
Drama, Thriller (1h 44m)
Hard Candy is a female rage movie with less of the shouty kind of anger and more of a stern, controlled feminist fury.
This is a revenge flick that centers on 14-year-old Hayley (Elliot Page), who talks to a pedophilic photographer online and pretends to fall for his game so she can pay him a visit.
When she arrives at his house, 32-year-old Jeff (Patrick Wilson) doesn't know the shock he's in for. Hayley ends up drugging and binding him, then threatens to castrate him for being a sexual predator.
In Hard Candy, David Slade subverts both the age and gender of most kidnapping plots, with a little girl holding a man captive here.
We can't help but root for Hayley, the courageous teenager who isn't afraid to take her own stand against a dangerous patriarchy.
8. Malcolm & Marie (2021)
Directed by Sam Levinson
Starring John David Washington, Zendaya
Drama, Romance (1h 46m)
Zendaya won several awards for her performance in Euphoria as Rue, the drug-addicted teenager dealing with grief and girlfriends.
The show's director, Sam Levinson, then teamed up with Zendaya to make Malcolm & Marie, the first feature film produced under COVID-19 restrictions (which is why it only stars two actors in one house).
Zendaya is yet another drug addict in this semi-autobiographical meta-narrative, freaking us out with a kitchen knife while sobbing and pretending she isn't clean.
Between themes of addiction and the black female experience in America, fury is bound to appear—and when it does, it's fiery. If you're looking for an example of black female rage movie, this is it!
7. Gone Girl (2014)
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Drama, Mystery, Thriller (2h 29m)
Fans of Gone Girl may be labeled as stereotypical "crazy feminists," but don't discount the film for its fans.
Gone Girl is extremely layered and complex, not just with its many plot twists but—more importantly—in the intricacies of its lead female character, Amy (Rosamund Pike).
In short, Amy is a psychopath who hates her husband, but she isn't your usual unhappy wife who's gone a little loopy. Amy's judgment is sound, her schemes are perfectly executed, and she's always one step ahead of the men in her life—including her husband (Ben Affleck).
The cunning antagonist of David Fincher's heralded film adaptation, Amy's bubbling-beneath-the-surface female rage is frightening, deadly, and perfectly portrayed in this fascinating thriller.
6. Don't Worry Darling (2022)
Directed by Olivia Wilde
Starring Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine
Drama, Thriller (2h 3m)
Don't Worry Darling caught a lot of flak for Harry Styles's questionable performance, but to his defense, it's hard to look good when you're acting alongside Chris Pine and Florence Pugh!
Directed by Olivia Wilde, Don't Worry Darling starts off by introducing us to a picture-perfect image of 1950s American suburbia: a pretty housewife cooks for her businessman husband, just as all her neighbors do in their matching white houses.
But when the disturbing truth behind the company town is revealed, Alice (Florence Pugh) refuses to continue playing housewife—which, in keeping with history, lands Alice in electroshock therapy.
Although the film was met with controversy amid cast gossip and whitewashed feminism, Pugh's performance of Alice raging against her controlling husband is immaculate. She's one of the best female rage examples in movies today.
5. Promising Young Woman (2020)
Directed by Emerald Fennell
Starring Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie
Crime, Drama, Mystery (1h 53m)
In Promising Young Woman, Carey Mulligan plays one of our favorite female anti-heroes in cinema: Cassie Thomas.
The 30-year-old medical school dropout looks completely innocent, fluffy, and safe on the surface, what with her lollipops, lipstick, pretty pink wardrobe, and ribbons.
But don't let the ribbons fool you. This chick will have you in the palm of her hand—and she uses those ribbons to do it.
After her best friend is raped and commits suicide, Cassie spends her evenings fake-drunk at bars in order to catch men who take advantage of incapacitated women.
Emerald Fennell won an Oscar for showing that women can be both pink and powerful, blonde and bloody. Whereas female revenge is often hushed down to a quiet poison secretly administered, Cassie's female rage is just as loud and violent as the men's.
4. Lolita (1997)
Directed by Adrian Lyne
Starring Jeremy Irons, Dominique Swain, Melanie Griffith
Drama, Romance (2h 17m)
Ever since Vladimir Nabokov published Lolita in 1955, people have been debating whether Lolita is a feminist text or not. After all, it's about a middle-aged man who has a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
Adrian Lyne's film adaptation of Lolita makes no attempt to hide the fact that its protagonist, Humbert Humber (Jeremy Irons), is a pedophile. Dominique Swain stars as the titular character, the apple of Professor Humbert's eye.
The scene when Lolita transitions from child with a milkshake mustache to screaming bloody murder and hitting Humbert? It's so iconic, it's featured in most female rage edits on TikTok.
3. Hidden Figures (2016)
Directed by Theodore Melfi
Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe
Biography, Drama, History (2h 7m)
In Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) isn't just fueled by anger against the patriarchy, but racism, too.
Despite being a literal rocket scientist and mathematical genius, Katherine Johnson is held back as a "computer" for a research center—the typewriters of the science field.
And if it isn't the prejudice she faces as a woman that discourages her, it's the fact that every bathroom is white-only, forcing her to walk half a mile just to use the nearest "Colored" bathroom.
When she's confronted about how much time she spends on "breaks," Katherine snaps and she risks her job to stick it to the white man, smack bang in the middle of NASA!
It's one of the greatest female rage moments in cinema and it raises the hairs on our arms every time we watch.
2. Hereditary (2018)
Directed by Ari Aster
Starring Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne
Drama, Horror, Mystery (2h 7m)
Ari Aster's horror film Hereditary has a lot of scenes that creep us out or make our jaws drop, but the most powerful of them is when Annie Graham is shouting at the dinner table.
Toni Collette plays the grief-stricken mother who doesn't even know she's living in a haunted house. This dinner scene is amongst the actress's best performances, which results when Alice's ungrateful son goads her for an outburst.
He quickly regrets it, of course, as Alice spares nothing as she lays every dark truth out on the table, shrieking until she's breathless about the pains of her motherhood.
It's the kind of built-up female rage that almost every mother can sympathize with, but it's deepened in Hereditary by all the other tragedies that just keep on piling up.
1. Pearl (2022)
Directed by Ti West
Starring Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright
Drama, Horror, Thriller (1h 43m)
One of the things that triggered social media's recent obsession with female rage movies is Mia Goth's version of it in Pearl.
Mia Goth actually stars in all three of Ti West's X slasher-horror film trilogy by A24 Films, two of which she spends screaming (and probably in the third also, but it hasn't been released yet).
The character of Pearl caught the internet's special attention for being a "femcel" icon with mascara running down her face. Knowing that Pearl is a horror film, it's a hint to just how unhinged Pearl is.
The wannabe actress certainly has a knack for melodrama, shrieking at the slightest shift in atmosphere.
"Why are you leaving me if I didn't do anything wrong? I don't understand, I thought you liked me!" Pearl shouts while confronting her lover in a pair of sweet-seeming dungarees.
And as they've always done throughout history, the man backs away from her rage in fear. That's why we're ranking Pearl as first pick of all the best female rage movies ever made.