“Good for her” is an expression that congratulates women for striking back against men, women, or a society in general that has sought to hold them down, even when the retaliation is violent or excessive. The phrase originates from the comedy series Arrested Development where eccentric alcoholic Lucille Bluth congratulates a woman on the news for allowing her car to roll into a lake after she “couldn’t take it anymore.”
In horror, women who take bloody and excessive retaliation are common, and it can be a feminist (or just plain enjoyable) experience to watch. These films may not be moral, but as Lady Gaga said when asked about her character Patrizia Gucci, who hired a hitman to murder her ex-husband in House of Gucci (2021), “I don’t believe in the glorification of murder. I do believe in the empowerment of women.”
Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a shy, bullied girl from an abusive home. After an incident in which the girls in her gym class taunt her for getting her period, one of Carrie’s tormenters feels guilty and asks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (William Katt) to ask Carrie to the prom. Carrie eventually accepts the offer and has a magical time at the dance, culminating in being voted prom queen and king with Tommy. However, the vote was rigged by Carrie’s bully, Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) and her boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta). The couple drops a bucket of pig’s blood on Carrie after she is crowned, and she is hurt and humiliated. The telekinetic powers that Carrie had started noticing are powered by her rage and she turns on classmates and teachers in the gym, using her powers to kill everyone, set the gym ablaze, and return home to kill her abusive mother.
Best “good for her” moment: The 20 minute split-screen scene of terror when Carrie unleashes her rage telekinetically on her classmates and chaperones.
A rape and revenge movie, I Spit on Your Grave is about a short story writer from Manhattan, Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton), who rents a cabin in rural Connecticut to work on her first novel. There, she becomes the target of a group of local men who violently rape Jennifer and leave her for dead. The next day, Jennifer goes to a local church and asks for forgiveness for the revenge she is about to take. She then brutally murders each of her rapists.
Best “good for her” moment: The bloody bath scene where Jennifer seduces ringleader Johnny and suddenly performs a penectomy in the middle of a sex act.
Thana is a mute seamstress living and working in New York City who is raped at gunpoint in an alley while walking home from work. When she gets home, she is attacked again and raped by a burglar. Thana is able to fight back and bludgeons the second rapist to death. She takes the man’s .45 pistol and slowly begins to take vengeance on the men of the city.
Best “good for her” moment: Thana reluctantly attends a Halloween party with her boss (who has been sexually harassing her) dressed as a nun with red lipstick. When her boss attempts to seduce her, she shoots him.
May is a shy, awkward loner whose best friend is a doll named Suzie. She meets horror fan Adam (Jeremy Sisto), and the two have a brief fling before Adam is put off by May’s weirdness. Unable to cope with the rejection, May begins to make a new friend using the body parts of those that have wronged her.
Best “good for her” moment: On Halloween, May dresses up and goes to Adam’s house where she murders him and his girlfriend with a scalpel.
Fourteen-year-old Hayley Stark (Elliot Page) ensnares 32-year-old photographer Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) in a trap in this bonkers psychological thriller. While Jeff maintains plausible deniability throughout most of the film, Hayley is certain that he is a pedophile. She drugs Jeff, traps him in his home, and tortures him while the audience wonders whose side they should be on.
Best “good for her” moment: After convincing Jeff that she will destroy evidence of his rape and murder of a local girl if he commits suicide, she adds “or not” and walks away.
A rare horror sequel that’s better than the original, Hostel: Part II follows new characters Beth (Lauren German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips), and Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) as they travel to Slovakia for a spa weekend on the advice of their acquaintance Axelle (Vera Jordanova). Of course, Axelle turns out to be a scout for the evil human-hunting society that sources its victims from the local hostel. Beth’s character gets some epic final-girl moments as she fights to turn the tables on the many predators of Hostel: Part II.
Best “good for her” moment: Unbeknownst to her captors Beth is actually a wealthy heiress. She uses her money to outbid Stuart, the man who has just tried to torture and kill her, and subsequently cuts off his genitals and feeds them to the guard dogs. She is then free to leave, an official member of the elite hunting society.
Teeth is a horror comedy about the vagina dentata urban legend, a folk story about vaginas that contain teeth. Dawn O’Keefe (Jess Weixler) is a Christian high-school student intent on saving her virginity for marriage. Fortunately for Dawn, and unfortunately for her shady suitors, the sudden appearance of her vagina dentata only hurts men whose advances aren’t consensual.
Best “good for her” moment: When gynecologist Dr. Godfrey (Josh Pais) won’t listen to Dawn, her vagina dentata activates and severs the fingers he puts inside Dawn without her consent.
In small-town Minnesota, lifelong best friends Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy’s (Amanda Seyfried) lives are interrupted when a local band tries to use Jennifer as a sacrifice to Satan in exchange for fame and fortune. Unfortunately, Jennifer isn’t even a backdoor virgin, so the sacrifice ends with her being alive but possessed. She begins feeding on local boys until she sets her sights on Needy’s boyfriend and the former best friends battle it out.
Best “good for her” moment: Jennifer seduces the school’s himbo football captain and disembowels him in the woods.
While eating dinner with her boyfriend’s family at their country house, the family is suddenly attacked by masked men hiding outside. What starts as a typical cabin in the woods horror movie takes a turn when it is revealed that Erin grew up in a survivalist cult. She uses her skills to fashion weapons and turn the tables on the masked intruders.
Best “good for her” moment: At the climax of a brutal fight for survival in the kitchen, Erin kills Felix with a blender to the skull.
Probably the most well-known “good for her” movie, Gone Girl is based on the novel by Gillian Flynn. It follows Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) as she (spoiler alert) fakes her own death to frame her philandering husband Nick (Ben Affleck). Not only is Amy willing to end her own life to punish Nick, she’s willing to murder her ex-boyfriend to frame him.
Best “good for her” moment: The reveal of Amy’s kidnapping as a farce masterminded by Amy herself where she delivers the iconic “cool girl” monologue:
Nick never loved me. He loved a girl who doesn’t exist. A girl I was pretending to be. The Cool Girl. Men always use that as the defining compliment, right? She’s a cool girl. Being Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, and dirty jokes, who plays video games and chugs beer, loves threesomes and anal sex and jams chili dogs into my mouth like I’m hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang-bang—while remaining a size 2, because cool girls are above all hot.
A folk horror movie about a girl named Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is stuck with her Puritan family after they are banished from their colony over a religious dispute. Living on a farm isolated from the outside world, the family struggles to survive. One day Thomasin’s infant brother Samuel mysteriously disappears and the family believes he was abducted by a local witch. Later, another brother dies after an encounter with the witch. Thomasin’s family turns on her.
Best “good for her” moment: At the end, Black Phillip offers a life of luxury to Thomasin, who accepts. She finds a coven of witches in the woods and laughs as she levitates and joins them.
A beautiful witch named Elaine (Samantha Robinson) moves to a new town to start over after the death of her husband. She performs a love spell and meets Wayne (Jeffrey Vincent Parise), a literature professor, and the two spend time at his cabin together. When Wayne becomes too clingy, he dies. She moves on to her friend’s husband, Richard (Robert Seeley), but he too becomes obsessed with Elaine and dies by suicide.
Best “good for her” moment: When a police detective (and love interest) tells Elaine he has evidence of her murders and tells her that “no man will ever love her enough,” she stabs him in the heart with her ceremonial blade.
A bloody French action thriller, Revenge tells the story of a socialite named Jennifer (Matilda Lutz), who arrives to a secluded desert home with her married boyfriend Richard (Kevin Janssens) for a romantic getaway. Richard’s friends, Stan and Dimitri, arrive early for their hunting trip and when Richard is away, Stan rapes Jennifer. When Jennifer refuses a bribe to cover the event up, he murders her by pushing her off a cliff. She survives to hunt the three men down.
Best “good for her” moment: After a bloody (and nude) chase, Jennifer shoots Richard and prepares to leave in his helicopter.
Dani (Florence Pugh) is a psychology student who has recently been traumatized by a murder-suicide that took the lives of her immediate family members. Her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), reluctantly invites her on a trip to study a remote community in Sweden with his friends. At the Hårga community, the group of friends is repulsed and intrigued by the cult’s way of life.
Best “good for her” moment: At the film’s end, Dani is asked to choose between sacrificing a member of the Hårga or Christian. She smiles in acceptance of her decision and the cathartic release of being seen by the community.
Grace (Samara Weaving) arrives at a mansion to marry into the wealthy Le Domas family via her fiance Alex. After the wedding, a family tradition takes place where the new bride must pull a card that will tell the family which game they will play. Unfortunately, Grace pulls the “hide and seek” card, meaning the family must hunt her down before daylight or the entire family will die. It is revealed that the family got their fortune from a deal (possibly with the Devil) to play the game whenever this card is pulled.
Best “good for her” moment: After failing to kill her, the Le Domases all die and Grace smokes a cigarette on the front steps while she waits for the police to arrive.
A controversial horror movie about a group of wealthy liberals who round up a group of conservative voters and hunt them at a manor in Croatia. The huntees include Crystal May Creasey (Betty Gilpin), who was mistaken with another woman with a similar name. Crystal is able to outsmart the hunters and turn the tables on them, slowly making her way to the group’s leader Athena Stone (Hilary Swank).
Best “good for her” moment:
After killing Athena, Crystal cauterizes her injury with a blowtorch, steals Athena’s champagne, and takes her jet back to the U.S.
A medical-school dropout, Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan), spends her time going home with men from bars and clubs, only to reveal herself to be sober and confront them about routinely raping drunk women. It’s revealed that seven years ago Cassie lost her best friend Nina to suicide after Nina’s rape investigation was negligently handled by all involved. When Cassie hears that Nina’s rapist is getting married, she infiltrates his bachelor party to torture him in revenge.
Best “good for her” moment: While posing as a stripper, Cassie interrogates her best friend’s rapist.
Pearl (Mia Goth) lives an isolated life on a Texas farm with her mother and invalid father while her husband fights in World War I. She dreams of becoming a famous dancer who is loved by everyone and can finally leave her family’s farm. When she is not hired following a local dance audition, her murderous urges are unleashed.
Best “good for her” moment: In a stunning monologue delivered by Mia Goth, Pearl confesses to her sister-in-law that, “It’s not about what I want anymore, Mitsy. It’s about making the best of what I have.”
More ‘good for her’ movies:
- Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) after escaping her abusive husband, a woman (Julia Roberts) lives in fear that he will track her down.
- Wild Things (1998) a neo-noir thriller about two high school girls and their guidance counselor and a plot for $8.5 million.
- Double Jeopardy (1999) a woman is set up when her husband fakes his death and she serves time for murder. Upon release, she seeks the revenge she is legally entitled to.
- Enough (2002) a waitress (Jennifer Lopez) seeks freedom from her controlling and abusive husband.
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) a lonely vampire known only as The Girl (Sheila Vand) rides a skateboard in a chador at night in the fictional Iranian town of Bad City.
- The Handmaiden (2016) a South Korean psychological thriller about a lady and her handmaiden.
- Raw (2016) a bloody French horror movie about a student at veterinary college who discovers a family secret.
- The Beguiled (2017) a Union soldier takes shelter from the civil war at a girls’ school in Virginia and finds himself at the mercy of women.
- The Other Lamb (2019) a teenage girl living in a polygamist cult comes of age.