Popularized in the midst of the ’80s slasher boom, the term “scream queen” became shorthand for a female actor generally known for starring in the most popular horror films of the era. The actor for which the phrase was coined, Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis, remains the poster child for scream queens and influential horror stars to this day. Naturally, the internet and various cinema commentators are always looking to crown the next scream queen. The names most commonly bandied about as potential heirs to the throne include Jenna Ortega, Emma Roberts, Anya Taylor-Joy and Victoria Pedretti.
But, the real (and best) modern scream queen has been quietly reigning for nearly a decade — Maika Monroe. The actor burst onto the horror scene in 2014 and built an impressive resume of horror and non-genre films alike. And, while the previously mentioned names each have certifiable claims to the crown– justified by solid (or even spectacular) entries in the horror genre — none of them have maintained the longevity or consistency of Monroe and her filmography.
Maika Monroe Has Built an Impressive Horror Resume
Since her debut in 2014, Monroe has starred in eight horror or horror-adjacent films. Of those eight, seven have positive critical ratings on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the only outlier being the 2018 sci-fi horror Tau. Though quality isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for the scream queen crown, the perpetual strength of Monroe’s choices within the horror genre speaks volumes. Not only is she starring in a multitude of horrors, but she’s also starring in a multitude of great ones. Some of the most notable horror pictures Monroe has carried include Adam Wingard’s spectacular genre mash-up The Guest and the recent Watcher.
Maika Monroe Starred in One of the Best Modern Horror Films
Most important, though, is Monroe’s breakout horror vehicle, It Follows. Aside from launching the actor into the spotlight and providing a stellar foundation for her scream queen campaign, It Follows has since been recognized as a modern horror classic. The movie is a chilling examination of adolescent sexuality, and a technical marvel from start to finish. It Follows uses classic horror tropes in exciting and fresh ways, creating an overwhelming sense of dread from the mundane and banal. Monroe’s performance is the central point around which the rest of the movie orbits. And It Follows’ influence has already been evident in numerous popular horrors since, including the recent box office hit Smile, which uses similar storytelling structures.
Maika Monroe Looks to Continue Her Contributions to Horror
Monroe’s next film looks to continue the trend of the actor’s dominance in the horror genre. The project, titled God Is a Bullet, looks to incorporate horror elements, primarily satanic cults. Of course, cults have become a tried and true horror plot device.
There are plenty of wonderful actors working under the horror umbrella today. And because the genre has gained steam in public estimation as an equally artistically valuable and commercially viable form, that number looks to increase with time. Several vying for the scream queen title have strong entries into the proverbial horror canon or prestigious and popular filmographies. But, as it stands, none have the consistency, longevity and continuing importance to the genre as Maika Monroe. How long she continues her reign as the ultimate modern scream queen remains to be seen, but for the time being, she remains the leader of the pack.