It may be surprising to some horror enthusiasts to learn that the genre has a sizable queer following. After all, horror has always been on the outskirts of cinema, and it’s often disregarded by film academics. It’s likely many queer fans have at some point felt like outliers in one or more aspects of life. So it’s no wonder they gravitate to a genre that’s been belittled and misunderstood time after time.
As with other avid horror fans, the queer community understandably identifies with the inordinate struggles the characters have to endure. There’s also solace in knowing a lot of them are able to escape in spite of the overwhelming obstacles placed before them.
So in honor of all the horror fans celebrating Pride Month, here are ten queer pairings from the genre that are memorable for various reasons. And as important as metaphorical, queer-coded twosomes like Jesse and Ron in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge are, this list would have to be much, much longer! So for now, here are some explicitly queer matches to get you started as you commemorate all that horror and Pride Month have to offer.
10. SERENA & NARI (UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB)
What makes Unfriended: Dark Web so different from its predecessor is that you actually care about most of the characters. The lot of them are decent people who got mixed up in a bad predicament, to put it lightly. The best of the bunch was couple Serena and Nari, who recently got engaged. They’ve stuck together through thick and thin, and Serena proves just how much she loves Nari before they each suffer a cruel and undeserving fate.
9. GEORGE & JOE (YOU’RE KILLING ME)
George (Jeffery Self) and Joe (Matthew McKelligon) appear incompatible in every way possible in the dark comedy You’re Killing Me. While George is bubbly and outgoing, Joe is reserved, friendless, and homicidal. What was that last one? Yep, Joe is a psychopath with a newfound penchant for murder. George has the misfortune of meeting Joe, but he’s also oblivious to the fact that his handsome new boy is a serial killer. Carnage notwithstanding, they’re actually an adorable couple.
8. ABE & JERK (THE RANGER)
The teenage cast of The Ranger is admittedly off-putting, and you can’t wait until they’re all picked off by the uniformed, no-nonsense killer. That being said, Abe (Bubba Weiler) and Jerk (Jeremy Pope) are a breath of fresh air mainly because their relationship isn’t treated as disparate. Best of all, Abe and Jerk‘s romance is a lesson to all other filmmakers — queer characters are allowed to exist without needing to make their orientations their only defining characteristic.
7. FRED & MARC (B&B)
After being denied a room at a conservative bed-and-breakfast, Fred (Sean Teale) and Marc (Tom Bateman) took their grievance to court and won. This couple’s determination to be treated as equals is commendable. Although they may not be the most analogous duo in terms of personality, Fred and Marc do complement one another quite well. Especially when it comes to a budding mystery during their return to the B&B for a victory vacation.
6. HYO-SHIN & SHI-EUN (WHISPERING CORRIDORS 2: MEMENTO MORI)
The South Korean horror franchise Whispering Corridors started off as a thinly veiled criticism of the country’s educational system, but with Memento Mori, the free-standing sequels shifted toward supernatural tales about women loving women in secret. In the second entry, a teenager discovers a diary shared between two students — Hyo-shin (Ye-jin Park) and Shi-eun (Young-jin Lee) — involved in a taboo relationship. The more she reads, the more the ostracized couple’s paranormal perturbation affects their school. This angst-ridden, arthouse horror is the highlight of the Whispering Corridors saga.
5. ANA & CLARA (GOOD MANNERS)
In the Brazilian horror-infused fairy tale Good Manners, the issue of class is broached as expectant, single mother Ana (Marjorie Estiano) hires Clara (Isabél Zuaa) to be her live-in nanny. Socially and familially shunned Ana is from an affluent background while Clara is struggling to make ends meet. Differences aside, the two women give in to an intense liaison that yields a veritable mixed blessing.
4. ELI & OSKAR (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN)
Vampires can be avatars for whatever their interpreters desire. And the androgynous Eli (Lina Leandersson) in Let the Right One In is as enigmatic as they come. They’ve trafficked questions about their gender since the film’s release, and all theories point to Eli being non-binary. The debates about that iconic “I’m not a girl” line are interesting to dissect, but no matter what the answer is, Eli being possibly genderqueer is the most important takeaway. The English-language remake Let Me In regretfully excluded this aspect, though. Nonetheless, watching Eli‘s relationship with Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) unfold on screen is a wondrous experience.
3. JACKIE & JULES (WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE)
The beauty of What Keeps You Alive is that the film features a lesbian couple as the protagonists without making their sexuality the focal point of the story. Other than Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) both being women, their situation is universal enough for anyone who’s ever being in a deeply dishonest relationship.
2. JACK & DIANE (JACK & DIANE)
The eponymous characters of Jack & Diane are undoubtedly more complex than the subjects of the classic John Mellencamp song of the same name. Diane (Juno Temple) is a meek, irresolute young woman on the verge of leaving for school in France. Her chance encounter with Jack — an unrecognizable Riley Keough — turns into a somewhat combative relationship that’s exacerbated by Diane‘s own deep-seated insecurities. It’s a bittersweet story, but Jack & Diane is startlingly practical in regards to the outcome.
1. EDDIE & JAKE (HELLBENT)
Eddie (Dylan Fergus) in the indie slasher Hellbent is affable, plucky, and a charming foil to Jake‘s (Bryan Kirkwood) quintessential bad boy demeanor. They may just have instant chemistry because of that “opposites attract” concept that really only applies to works of fiction, but come what may, these kids make it work when a West Hollywood based serial killer targets them. The lengths they go to to protect one another is endearing.
Who are your favorite queer characters in horror? Or what are your favorite LGBTQ+ themed horror movies? Let us know on Twitter, in the official NOFS Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!