21st Century Scream Queens

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Article, Articles 2024, Latest, Lists

Us Horror fans know the important role female leads played during the 80’s and 90’s. Known as Scream Queens, these actresses were often used to market other films. The first Scream Queen dates back to the 1940s, starting with the beautiful Fay Wray in the classic monster feature King Kong, but it was in the 80s that this title was perfected, led by the very first scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis, born of horror royalty, starred as Laurie Strode in Halloween (1978), capturing the hearts of horror fans globally. Others like Dee Wallace, Linnea Quigley, and Michelle Bauer followed, ushering in a new wave of horror filled with guts and screams. But what about modern horror? Since the turn of the century, who are the new Scream Queens? Today, we explore the fresh faces of modern horror who have taken up this mantle.



Anya Taylor-Joy

Anya Taylor-Joy - 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Anya Taylor-Joy’s unique screen presence and versatility have made her a standout in modern cinema, known for her ability to portray complex and compelling characters with depth and authenticity. Her unrivalled passion and screen presence has made her one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actress’ of our time.

Having cut her teeth in the The Witch (2015) she also starred in M. Night Shyamalan Split (2016) and Glass (2019). She also starred in Morgan (2016), Thoroughbreds (2017) and Last Night in Soho (2021). She recently starred in the central role of Imperator Furiosa in  Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)



Vera Farmiga

Vera Farmiga - 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Vera Farmiga’s contributions to the horror genre, marked by her depth of emotion, authenticity of character, and range of performances, have established her as a powerhouse actress in contemporary horror cinema. Having starred in The Conjuring series (2013–present) and as Lorraine Warren and as Norma Bates in the television series Bates Motel (2013–2017), her growing slate of work is easily making her a go to actress for rolls that require complex and nuanced characters.


Shawnee Smith

Shawnee Smith - 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Shawnee Smith is probably best known for her role as Amanda Young in the Saw series, however, the talented actress was no stranger to the horror genre before she laned that role. Having dived into (semi) cosmic horror in The Blob (1988), Battled a killer Clown in Carnival of Souls (1998 ) and tasted King’s wrath in The Stand (1994), Smith is certainly no stranger to our beloved horror genre.

That said, It’s Smith’s turn of the century role as Jigsaw apprentice Amanda that has firmly redirected the actress back into the dark path and had solidified her reputation as a formidable scream queen in the 21st century. Yes, ok, she might not be doing too much of the screaming, that accolade goes to her bloody victims, but she’s a massive part of the world of horror and deserves her slot her on this list.


Alexandra Essoe


Alexandra Essoe - 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Any Actress brave enough to take on Kubrick’s Wendy Torrence after Shelley Duvall’s traumatic experience is O.K. in our books. And that’s just what Alexandra Essoe did, almost 40 years later.

Essoe has made a name for herself in the horror genre with her fearless portrayals of complex characters and her ability to immerse herself fully into each role. Her dedication to authenticity and emotional depth has garnered critical acclaim and a growing fan base among horror enthusiasts. Making her a true contender for a modern day Scream Queen.


Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson -  - 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

It’s hard not to see Sarah Paulson as anything g other than a horror actress, as her

Sarah Paulson has made an indelible mark on the horror genre through her remarkable performances, particularly in “American Horror Story”. Her ability to bring depth and complexity to her characters has set a high standard for acting in horror television, making her one of the most influential figures in modern horror.


Taissa Farmiga

Taissa Farmiga  - 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Taissa Farmiga has carved out a notable presence in the horror genre, particularly through her work with on American Horror Story, much like co-star Sarah Paulson. However, Farmiga has certainly spread her dark wings a little further afield, starring in film such as The Nun (2018) and the aptly named The Final Girls (2015).

Farmiga’s work in horror at a relatively young age has certainly positioned her as a modern scream queen. Her ability and age giving her skills to convey vulnerability, whilst creating characters that have a strength that pushes them through adversity. No matter what she throws herself into, Farmiga always delivers a a standout performances. Give us MORE!


Kate Siegel
Kate Siegel

Kate Siegel  is quickly becoming the go to actress for your horror project. Through her consistent work in high-quality horror films and series, Siegel has become a recognisable and respected figure in modern horror. Her collaborations with Flanagan have been particularly influential, helping to shape contemporary horror storytelling. Siegel’s roles often include elements of diversity and inclusion, whether through characters with disabilities (“Hush”) or complex LGBTQ+ representation (“The Haunting of Hill House”), breaking from traditional horror stereotypes.


Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain- 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Better Known for her drama films, it’s taken awhile for Jessica Chastain to warm to the horror genre, but bless her bloody heart, she’s here and we love it. Whilst she may not sit in a traditional Scream Queen mould, Chastain contribution to the genre has to be acknowledged and is changing the way in which we think of actors in film. With films such as Mama (2013), IT Part Two (2019) and Crimson Peak (2015), the actress knows how to work the genre, but it’s her involvement in high-profile horror projects that has helped bring more attention to the genre,  enriching modern horror cinema and broadened its appeal.


Neve Campbell

Neve Campbell- 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Neve Campbell gave us our first glimpses of the modern Scream Queen at the very end of the turn of the century, leading the Scream films through the 90’s to present day. Campbell’s portrayal of Sidney Prescott was central to the success of the Scream series. Her character was a strong, resourceful, and relatable protagonist who broke many of the traditional horror tropes associated with female characters in slasher films. Unlike earlier horror heroines who were often depicted as victims, Campbell’s Sidney is proactive and resilient, facing her fears head-on.

For Neve Campbell herself, the Scream series was pivotal in establishing her as a prominent actress in Hollywood. It opened doors for her to take on a variety of roles in different genres, though, for genre fans, she’ll always be best know for stunning contribution to horror.


Toni Collette

Toni Collette - 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Toni Collette’s has certainly cemented herself in horror in the last decade, starting a trend with The Sixth Sense (1999) that catapulted the actress into other horror ventures such as Fright Night (2011), Krampus (2015) and Hereditary (2018).

Toni Collette’s remarkable range and commitment to her roles make her an essential figure in contemporary horror cinema. Her performances are marked by their emotional depth and authenticity, elevating the genre and leaving a lasting impact on audiences.

Collette has redefined what it means to be a scream queen, bringing emotional depth and complexity to her roles in the horror genre.

Mia Goth

Mia Goth - 21st Century Scream Queens - Horror Articles - Horror Land

Mai Goth has quickly become one of the most compelling actresses in modern horror thanks to her fearless approach to her characters and an incredible screen presence that is both harrowing and intriguing.

The British born actress Mia Gypsy Mello da Silva Goth started her career as fashion model, something she had continued to do throughout her film profession, debuting as a runway model in 2023. She landed a breakthrough role in the controversial Nymphomaniac (2013) films, which help to land her juicer roles such as in Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria (2018) and the sci-fi mystery film High Life (2018).

Goth’s transition into Scream Queen royalty absolutely started with her close collaboration with Ti West on  the X trilogy, starting in 2022 with X. She further expanded her repertoire with  Brandon Cronenberg’s thriller Infinity Pool (2023) and is set to star in MaXxXine in 2024 and Guillermo del Toro’s Netflix film Frankenstein.

Mia Goth’s fearless approach to her characters and her willingness to embrace the darker aspects of humanity make her a standout scream queen of the 21st century. Her performances are characterised by an intensity that leaves a lasting impression on audiences, ensuring her place among the top actresses in modern horror.


  Hey Horror Fans – These are the actresses we should all be keeping an eye on, as they will undoubtly be starring in future horrors that will become future classics. Let us know your favorite scream queen and why. Head on down to the comments below.

Keep Rotten”


“Morti” The Mortician
(The Editor)

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