‘Crow’ – a 360° horror-style short film highlighting sexual harassment towards women

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that sexual violence against women ‘is a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights’. They estimate that ‘1 in 3 (30%) women worldwide have been subjected to (…) non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime’. In 2021 End Violence Against Women (EVAW) confirmed that ‘one in two women felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a quiet street near their home, compared to one in seven men. One in two women felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a busy public place, compared to one in five men. Four out of five women felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a park or other open space, compared to two out of five men. Two out of three women aged 16 to 34 years experienced one form of harassment in the previous 12 months; with 44% of women aged 16 to 34 years having experienced catcalls, whistles, unwanted sexual comments or jokes, and 29% having felt like they were being followed’. EVAW (2021) state that this ‘data confirms what women’s organisations have long known and sounded the alarm about: that being followed, harassed and assaulted are almost universally shared experiences of being a woman and girl, and that the threat of men’s violence leads to additional “safety work” and a restricted sense of freedom’. Given the prevalence of this serious social issue, Crow employs immersive 360° XR filmmaking technology, coined as ‘the ultimate empathy machine’ (Milk, 2015), to place the audience inside in the experience of a female student as she walks home from university through the city. It is filmed entirely from the perspective of the female protagonist, with the 360° camera doubling as a ‘prop’ within the filmic text by suggesting it is the protagonist’s mobile phone that she uses as a tool to record, and to intervene, in what she sees and experiences as she walks through the city. The film features real-world examples of sexual harassment: being closely followed by an unknown older man; being flashed by an unknown older man as the protagonist walks through a narrow city centre street; witnessing an inebriated young woman being ‘helped’ by two men; being jeered at and cat-called by a group of young men. Alongside these hyper-realist incidents, the film combines elements of the fantastical in its denouement, where it is suggested the protagonist has transformed into a crow to protect herself from a home intruder. This presentation will outline the film’s theoretical underpinnings: Creed’s (1993) notion of the monstrous feminine, in particular the possessed body and the male fear of woman-as-castrator. It will also link the film to Shiva’s (1997) notion of ‘women as nature’ and how this disrupts patriarchal dominion over women’s bodies. It will also outline its filmic influences in particular, Ana Lily Amirpour’s ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ (2014). It will outline its connection to fairytales, which operate as ‘warnings’ of the consequences of transgressive behaviour. Finally, it will consider links to Celtic mythology and symbolism, with particular reference to the warrior goddess of fate and death, Morrigan, who is often depicted with, or as, a crow or raven. Overall, it will argue that the film combines the hyperreal with the fantastical to create an experiential horror-style film that at once upholds and disrupts notions of women as victims of sexual harassment.
Period9 May 2024
Event titleIrish Screen Studies Seminar 2024
Event typeConference
LocationBelfast, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • 360° filmmaking
  • immersive
  • feminism
  • horror
  • film