Women in Horror Month: Betty Gabriel

Women in Horror Month: Betty Gabriel

Welcome to Women in Horror Month at We Who Walk Here, Walk Alone! Throughout February, we will be celebrating the women who make horror the spooky, scary, and sublime genre that we all love.

Betty Gabriel is a relative newcomer to the horror scene, but she has already shown that she is a talented, versatile actress whose star is deservedly on the rise. I first saw her as Georgina in Get Out, and I became an instant fan. (Here’s your spoiler warning, kiddies, so if you haven’t seen Get Out yet, skip down past the video link.)

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Gabriel does a beautiful job of portraying the struggle between the African-American woman trapped in the Sunken Place and the white woman who has subjugated her within her own body. When Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) tells Georgina that he gets nervous being around too many white people, her reaction is astonishing. We see her true self bubble up ever so briefly as her mouth quivers, the condescension in her eyes drops away, and a tear rolls down her cheek; for just a moment, Gabriel shows us the heartbreak and pain of living in the Sunken Place.

Georgina’s repeated “No”s as she wrests back control are both sad and terrifying. She is simultaneously trying to mollify Chris and force her tearful captive back down into the Sunken Place. As a queer woman of color, Gabriel’s character is the most vulnerable in the movie, and she makes that vulnerability achingly apparent in this scene.

Gabriel also displayed her talent for suggesting complex inner worlds playing Laney, the neighborhood protector with a violent past, in 2016’s The Purge: Election Year. I enjoy the Purge series, but no one will ever accuse it of being subtle, so when Election Year revealed that Laney used to be a badass named Pequeña Muerte I was shocked (and impressed) that they didn’t give us a blood-drenched flashback of her former life. 

The only information we get is some exposition from a pair of sociopathic teenagers and this line that Gabriel totally sells: “Pequeña Muerte is back, bitches.” Gabriel takes the thinly outlined backstory and creates an intriguing character imbued with the self-assuredness and weariness of a former warrior. The Purge series obviously isn’t lacking for sequels, but with Gabriel in the role, I would watch the hell out of a Pequeña Muerte movie.

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Betty Gabriel has more genre projects on the horizon, including a film directed by Saw and Insidious writer Leigh Whannell. I’m excited to see her take on new horror roles, and I’m excited to feature her as my first Women in Horror Month profile. Be sure to come back on Monday for more Women in Horror Month fun. Until then, take a stroll through the archives or leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Keep it creepy, fiends.

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