Love Makes You Do Crazy Things
Relationships can be toxic, and that’s no secret. A person that gaslights, manipulates, or downright abuses their significant other shows a level of wickedness and malice that is hard to top. It can be frustrating, oppressive, and sometimes even scary – and that’s the button horror films have been pressing for decades when dealing with horrible girlfriends and boyfriends.
Horror films are a powerful tool to underline the toxicity and extremity some people are willing to reach, and they tend to do so by presenting double-faced characters that often don’t show the worst of themselves until the very end. And when the viewer realizes who they really are, it’s much more terrifying. Whether it’s through supernatural means, or through a realistic portrayal of how dangerous a human being can be, here’s a list of the five worst girlfriends in horror history.
5. Lola – The Loved Ones (2009)
Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy) is the main antagonist of the 2009 Australian horror film The Loved Ones. While technically not the actual partner of the main character Brent (Xavier Samuel), her role in the story and her actions undoubtedly position her as one of the worst girlfriends in horror movie history.
Lola’s infatuation with Brent is the catalyst for the horrors of this story. When Brent rejects her invitation to the school dance, Lola’s reaction is not that of a typical teenager experiencing rejection. Instead, her response is marked by violence and sadism, as she kidnaps Brent and subjects him to unspeakable torture and torment, demonstrating a complete disregard for his consent or well-being. If that is not enough, Lola’s relationship with her father, who is complicit in her actions, further exemplifies her distorted sense of love and affection. The deeply unhealthy dynamic between Lola and her father contributes to her disturbing behavior and warped understanding of romantic relationships.
Throughout the film, Lola’s actions paint a chilling portrait of a young woman who will stop at nothing to satisfy her desires, even if it means causing immense pain and suffering to those she claims to care about. Her utter lack of empathy, her predisposition for cruelty, and her relentless pursuit of her own desires serve as a terrifying exploration of the dark extremes to which obsession and manipulation can lead in the context of a romantic relationship – and make her a worthy addition to the list of most horrifying girlfriends in horror films.
4. May – May (2002)
Lucky McKee’s 2002 directorial debut May revolves around the titular character’s struggle to connect with the world around her following a complicated and traumatizing childhood. May Kennedy (Angela Bettis) is one of the most unsettling and complex figures in the horror genre. Her story revolves around her intense desire for love and human relations after lifelong social awkwardness and isolation. That is exactly what initially endears her to viewers, but as the narrative unfolds, her behavior takes a sinister turn and translates into the horrific obsession of creating the perfect partner by, and there’s no easy way of saying this, sewing together body parts from different corpses.
May’s increasingly erratic and violent behavior throughout the film alienates those around her, including her boyfriend Adam (Jeremy Sisto). Their relationship plays a huge part in the film’s plot and becomes more and more strained as the film progresses, ultimately contributing to May’s descent into madness. Her inability to sustain a healthy relationship, coupled with her growing detachment from reality, truly shows how bad of a romantic partner she is to Adam. Her insane attempt to create the perfect boyfriend reflects her fixation on idealized love and how that is a manifestation of her inability to accept the imperfections in herself and her boyfriend. But that’s not it, since Adam’s suggestion of a breakup triggers a breakdown in May, who instead of dealing with it in a healthy way, commits shocking and brutal acts that eventually result in the end of their relationship.
3. Asami – Audition (1999)
Takashi Miike’s 1999 horror film Audition, based on the 1997 novel by Ryu Murakami, has been incredibly influential worldwide, and it launched the Japanese director’s career into stardom. The film revolves around widower Shigeharu (Ryo Ishibashi) who stages an audition to meet a new romantic partner. He thinks he finds it in Asami (Eihi Shiina), only for some unspeakable horrors to unravel.
One of the primary reasons Asami is considered a terrible girlfriend is her deceptive nature. She presents herself as pure, innocent, and submissive, which initially attracts Shigeharu. However, this façade conceals a deeply disturbed and sadistic personality, and as the film unfolds, her true nature is revealed. Her treatment of Shigeharu is marked by manipulation, cruelty, and violence. She plays on his emotions, exploiting his loneliness and vulnerability after the loss of his wife, but her actions go far beyond psychological torment. The infamous scenes that involve Asami’s use of needles and piano wire to inflict pain to the widower are visceral and disturbing, showcasing not only her wickedness, but her enjoyment of Shigeharu’s suffering and her complete lack of empathy or remorse.
Asami’s backstory reveals a history of abuse and trauma, and although adding complexity to her character and providing some context for her behavior, it does not justify the extreme cruelty she inflicts upon Shigeharu. Her vicious nature, her manipulation and abuse of Shigeharu, and her complete disregard for his well-being serve as a disturbing exploration of the darkest aspects of human relationships and psychological horror.
2. Julia Cotton – Hellraiser (1987)
Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins) is a central character in Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic Hellraiser, the film that introduced modern audiences to the infamous Cenobites, an extraterrestrial species that can’t differentiate between pain and pleasure. Despite the horror viewers all over the world might feel for the Cenobites’ terrible leader Pinhead (Doug Bradley), it’s nothing compared to the much more realistic horror one might feel towards the morally reprehensible and manipulative Julia.
Julia’s moral descent begins when she becomes infatuated with her husband’s brother, Frank Cotton. She embarks on an affair with Frank, and when this is inadvertently torn apart and confined to a skeletal state, Julia’s obsession with him intensifies. She becomes complicit in Frank’s depraved quest for rejuvenation by luring unsuspecting victims to their gruesome demise. In her complete disregard for loyalty and commitment, Julia’s betrayal of her husband Larry is not only an act of infidelity but a descent into depravity and sadism. She is willing to engage in horrific acts of violence to satisfy her own desires and maintain her connection with Frank, even if it means sacrificing innocent lives. Throughout the film, Julia displays a chilling lack of empathy and a willingness to inflict pain and suffering upon others. Her moral decay mirrors her physical deterioration, underscoring her obsession with pleasure at the expense of all else.
Julia Cotton is the embodiment of the dark and destructive forces that can emerge within the context of a romantic relationship, making her a truly haunting presence (and terrible girlfriend/wife) in the horror genre.
1. Rose Armitage – Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele’s 2017 horror film Get Out is a masterpiece within and outside of the genre for its mastery in manipulating the audience’s expectations, and the character of Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) makes no exception. While her character may not exhibit the overt violence seen in other entries on this list, her actions and motivations make her a truly repulsive human being. Rose initially presents herself as loving, understanding, and empathetic, which draws in the viewer as well as her boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya). However, her true nature is revealed as the story unfolds. Rose’s most deplorable behavior is her active role in the sinister plot devised by her family to exploit and manipulate African American individuals for their own gain. She deceives Chris into believing that her family is welcoming and accepting, but in reality, she is fully aware of their horrifying intentions. She actively participates in the exploitation and subjugation of her boyfriend, showcasing a spine-chilling lack of empathy and moral responsibility – it’s truly terrifying to see her switch from trustworthy character to stone-cold murderer in a handful of seconds.
Rose highlights the psychological horror that can emerge within the context of a romantic relationship, and her remorseless behavior is a powerful commentary to the bigger theme of the insidious nature of racism in modern society. Her character serves as a chilling reminder of the potential for evil within the confines of a romantic relationship, making her a standout figure in the horror genre and the worst girlfriend in horror history.
In horror cinema, the portrayal of terrible girlfriends warn viewers about the darkness that can thrive within the context of romantic relationships. These five characters stand out for their malicious acts of betrayal, manipulation, and violence. However, they play a pivotal role, as their presence serves as a stark reminder that within the realm of horror, the scariest monsters are often those that disguise their horrific nature behind a façade of love, trust, and affection. They provoke deep reflections on the complexities of human relationships and the malice they can explore.
Do you agree with this list? Make sure to stream May on Tubi, Get Out on Peacock, and The Loved Ones, Hellraiser, and Audition on Amazon Prime Video.
Get Out (2017) Official Trailer