Can we kill the assumption that horror is a dude’s genre already? Years of evidence and even cold hard statistics have proven that women often make up a bigger percentage of the horror audience, and yet there’s a glaring imbalance when it comes to the people who make them. Thank freakin’ god for XX, a new horror anthology (a la the V/H/S series) entirely written and directed by women and starring a woman in its lead role. Even if this particular collection of films isn’t a game-changer for horror, what XX is doing is a pioneering step towards getting necessary and fresh perspectives in a genre that can often feel so stale. 

The names involved in XX alone are exciting enough—and what they prove here will hopefully open up more opportunities for them in the future, whether it be a standalone feature film or a continuation of the series. Filmmaker Jovanka Vuckovic kicks off the anthology with a Jack Ketchum short story adaptation that brews with cold domestic anxiety until it becomes an indigestible gore feast. Musician Annie Clark (you know her as St. Vincent) makes her directorial debut here with a Melanie Lynskey-starring comic relief in the middle that doubles down on the stress and disappointment of your worst birthday party.

Following Clark’s number is a visceral, heart-pounding short from horror anthology queen Roxanne Benjamin (she produced all V/H/S movies and directed the five-part Southbound). She takes the well-known premise of a camping trip gone wrong and makes us sweat through it. Rounding out the collection is a monstrous tale from one of the most exciting names in horror today, Karyn Kusama (The Invitation, Jennifer’s Body), who makes a devilish allegory to white male toxicity. Each story comes with such a distinctly different atmosphere and perspective, only vaguely tied by Sofia Carrillo’s animation in between each vignette. We spoke with each of the directors to hear why female voices are so specifically important to horror, their first memory of falling in love with (i.e. being terrorized by) the genre, and who they would love to see a vignette from if there is an XX 2 in the future.