To celebrate Women in Horror Month, I will be highlighting some of my favorite undersung female characters in horror films each day this month. These posts will contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movies mentioned do yourself a solid and check them out before reading all the way through.
Today I’m celebrating Jackie from What Keeps You Alive because I guess this has inadvertently become villains week. If you have ever realized someone you love is not who you thought they were, and may actually want to hurt you, I think you will appreciate how scary and unnerving Jackie is.
Jackie has taken her wife Jules to her family’s isolated lakeside cabin to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. At first Jackie seems like a warmly and lovely spouse, but then she performs the creepiest guitar solo ever.
Next, her childhood friend and closest neighbor visits from across the lake but calls her Megan the entire time, a name Jules has never heard her referred to as.
Jackie keeps giving seemingly reasonable explanations and Jules keeps trying to ignore her growing sense of dread. Just when it seems like they are back on track, Jackie suddenly and unceremoniously pushing Jules off a cliff during a hike. What I love so much about Jackie is how slowly she seems to change until this abrupt and understated reveal. Even though it already seems like something bad is going to happen, the push still comes out of nowhere.
Both leads do a phenomenal job acting, but one particular moment secured Jackie’s spot on this list. Jackie realizes Jules did not die from her fall, so she tries to lure her out by feigning being incredibly distraught. Jules hesitates but almost responds to Jackie’s pleas. Then she snaps back to empty indifference right in front of your eyes, and you realize she is just mimicking what someone should do if a loved one was hurt to suss Jules out the easy way.
But since Jules won’t do it the easy way, Jackie goes for it the hard way.
The cat and mouse fight between them escalates, revealing Jackie’s Bluebeard-like history with women and her efficiency at killing.
“I’m done playing around. You must be confused. I mean, why would your wife do this to you, right You’re probably thinking.. “Maybe she’s had a psychotic break.” After all…we’re in love, right?”Jackie
As a lesbian, Jackie is one of the only villains who ever had me doing double takes at my wife while we were watching a horror movie.
Jackie is undersung to me because it is rare to see such a cold, sociopathic queer woman in a film where her evil is not rooted in her queerness. It is terrifying to think someone you love could be a completely different person from the way they present themselves to you, and that the difference between what you know and what you don’t could kill you.
At times, Jackie borders on entertaining with her viciousness. In one particular scene, she promises Jules she will stab her friend in the chest, drag the knife down, and rip everything out should Jules try to warn the friend about Jackie. Jules of course tries to warn the friend, and Jackie delivers on her promised stabbing. You have to appreciate a killer who sticks to their exact promises better than most politicians.
Hats off to Jackie but please stay very far away from me.