With the ever-growing popularity of Netflix’s hit original show, “You,” viewers find themselves romanticizing the character Joe Goldberg, played by Penn Badgley. Joe is a psychopath who believes he is a “nice guy” while simultaneously stalking, tormenting and murdering those who fall victim.
The issue isn’t with the underlying themes of the show at all.
“You” is just doing its job as a psychological thriller; the real problem is rooted in the fact that we allow ourselves to completely disregard Joe’s torturing of his ex-girlfriends and go as far as to glamorize it.
Our feelings conflict between our morals and these characters’ actions, making us want to revisit films where the tables are turned. That is, movies where the bad men don’t get their undeserving happily ever after.
With that being said, here are some of the best films where the men don’t get away with it:
1. “Promising Young Woman” (2020, Available on HBO Max)
This 2020 aesthetically pleasing masterpiece brought to life by director and writer, Emerald Fennell, is the revenge thriller of the decade.
Cassie, played by Carey Mulligan, is a coffee shop barista by day and vigilante for sexual assault victims by night. Each night she pretends to be intoxicated and lets a “nice” guy bring her home. To his surprise, she won’t be sleeping with him. She’ll be teaching him a lesson.
2. “The Other Woman” (2014, Available on Amazon Prime Video)
A successful, independent lawyer, Carly Whitten, played by Cameron Diaz, is in shock when she finds out her new, dreamy boyfriend is married. Carly, along with the man’s devoted wife, Kate, played by Leslie Mann, join forces to take him down. Along the way, they meet his other mistress, Amber, played by Kate Upton.
Writer Melissa Stack’s comedic film is definitely a post-breakup go-to. It’s an excellent women-leading film that makes us want to be best friends with all the girls on our crush’s Snapchat.
3. “Jennifer’s Body” (2009, Available on Amazon Prime Video)
A horror-cult classic, “Jennifer’s Body” has taken the honor as a horror-comedy must-see.
Two teen best friends, Jennifer, played by Megan Fox, and Anita “Needy,” played by Amanda Seyfried, survive a bar fire after a concert. The band who played the concert persuades Jennifer to get in their extremely sketchy van.
After a ritual performed on Jennifer to get the band famous backfires, Jennifer becomes a full-blown demon. The newly born demon begins to secretly eat her classmates with Needy vowing to put an end to her best friend’s killings.
4. “Hush” (2016, Available on Netflix)
“Hush” is a horror movie that tells the tale of a deaf writer, Maddie, played by Kate Siegel, who lives isolated in the woods. She only has contact with her friendly neighbor whose home is a bit far from hers.
Maddie’s quiet and humble life is turned upside down when an intruder terrorizes her, taking advantage of the fact that she cannot hear anything. Maddie has to use her wisdom and survival skills to fend for herself, all alone for miles and miles.
And get this, the intruder is quite literally credited as “Man.”
5. “A Vigilante” (2018, Available on Amazon Prime Video)
In “A Vigilante,” a woman attends a support group after escaping her horrific husband. Played by Olivia Wilde, Sadie doubles as a ruthless vigilante that helps victims of domestic violence escape the men who are terrorizing them.
Directed by Sarah Daggar-Nickson, “A Vigilante” is a tough mystery/drama to watch but has been highly praised by critics. Wilde is described as giving “a tour de force performance.”
6. “Freaky” (2020, Available on HBO Max and Hulu)
While the protagonist of “Freaky” is played by Vince Vaughn throughout 80% of the film, it still tells the story of a shy girl seeking revenge on a serial killer who tried to end her life. The ridiculously funny comedy plays a twist on the classic “Freaky Friday” (2003) situation. The town’s infamous serial killer (Vaughn) tries to murder the shy, unpopular and anxious teenage girl, Millie, played by Kathryn Newton. In the process of doing so, the two characters switch bodies.
Now, Millie is stuck in the disgusting and filthy body of the serial killer as she has to learn to overcome her fears and get her old body back before any more students are killed.
Though not the standard coming-of-age film, it’s still a must-see comedy for horror fans.
These films contradict the viewing of women as constant targets of sexualization, abuse and unjust treatment in our favorite movies and shows. Seeing these characters overcome their abuse and fears creates a more empowering atmosphere for women in cinema.