These days, there are plenty of great modern filmmakers taking the horror genre to new heights: Jordan Peele, Robert Eggers, and Ari Aster, just to name a few. But there’s maybe nobody pushing the boundaries of terror more than the astonishing Julia Ducournau.

At 33, Ducournau was a young director who only had two short films to her name. Then, in 2016, her debut feature “Raw” was selected to compete in the Critics Week section of the Cannes Film Festival and ended up one of the most buzzed about films to come from the prestigious event. The feature — about a veterinarian in training who tastes meat for the first time and develops an appetite for human flesh — made headlines for its disturbing, intensely graphic content. During its premiere screening, audience members allegedly fainted from the film’s goriest scenes. But the transgressive movie still received plenty of acclaim, winning a prize out of the festival and making Ducournau one of the most fascinating new directors in the world.

Turns out, “Raw” was just her warm-up. Ducournau returned to Cannes in 2021 with her sophomore feature “Titane,” a less gory but nonetheless audacious film about a woman who turns to killing after an assault, has sex with a car, and ends up impersonating a missing teen boy in order to seek safety from the law in the home of a fire captain. The movie was just as weird as that description suggests, but “Titane” made it into the main competition of Cannes and won that year’s Palm D’Or — making history as the first solo female-directed movie to claim the prize. The film and its mix of pitch-black humor, shocking violence, and surprising sweetness resulted in one of the greatest works of art in recent cinematic memory. Now, body horror fans are eagerly anticipating whatever she does next.

Ducournau is an obvious student of David Cronenberg and David Lynch, with her propensity for body horror and her playful presentation of grotesque content serving as signatures in her work. But Ducournau’s style is also very much her own; both “Raw” and “Titane” are films that focus on young woman breaking from the constraints of polite society and finding themselves through unconventional and horrifying means. The movies are jaw-dropping in their audacity, but there’s a heart to both of them that grounds the violence and the bloodshed with real emotion.

In celebration of October, grab a fork and knife and dig into the films that inspired Ducournau’s twisted horror stories. Read on for a list of 12 films that Ducournau has named as some of her favorites, compiled from a variety of interviews discussing her influences and inspirations.

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