SHIRLEY – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

I feel like we may be seeing the beginnings of a new subgenre of horror movies by women and about women… and more specifically, about the horror story that is women’s ordinary, daily lives: the constant denigration and dismissal and microaggressions and gaslighting that make up the sea of everyday sexism that we have no choice but to swim in. We saw this with Kitty Green’s The Assistant, from earlier this year, which framed the abuse that women are subjected to in the workplace by powerful men — and men who aspire to be powerful — as a constant low-level nightmare to be slogged through.

And now we see it in Josephine Decker’s stupendous Shirley, a not-biopic of the great writer Shirley Jackson, based on a novel by Susan Scarf Merrell that fictionalizes a moment in the author’s life as a way of imagining what it might have been like to be in her head. This is a work of domestic gothic grotesquerie of women’s suffocation and sacrifice to the needs of men, always presumed to be more important and more pressing, and of women’s pain and isolation, from the world and from other women who might be their allies, unless we can find a way to overcome the conditioning that tells us that other women are our rivals, and so find common ground. Continue reading…

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).