Rose the Hat is the primary antagonist of Stephen King's novel, Doctor Sleep, which was recently adapted into a film by Mike Flanagan; her rise to popularity has proven that horror needs more female villains.
Though Doctor Sleep has done poorly at the box office, which was a surprise given the overall anticipation for and enthusiasm about the film, actress Rebecca Ferguson delivered a standout performance as something of an unconventional villain. Rose the Hat is unconventional not only because she's female, but because her mannerisms are so starkly different than the representation of female villains in horror in the past. She is charismatic, maternal (even though she kills children), and has a strange warmth to her that draws her victims in.
The film adaptation of her character stayed relatively true to King's novel, with only one major difference. Overall, fans felt Doctor Sleep was an interesting bridge between The Shining and the novel, though reviews are mixed as to whether or not it is a true adaptation of the source material in general, since many things were changed or left out entirely.
Who Is Rose The Hat?
Rose the Hat is one of the leaders of the True Knot, which are a gypsy caravan of psychic vampires who feed off of their victims' energy, or "steam." Typically, they try to find children, as they are more innocent and have more nourishing "steam"; Rose in particular seems to have the ability to smell out and track particularly charged children who have the brightest "shine." In general, she is deeply connected to her cohorts, with particular fondness for Crow Daddy and Grandpa Flick. She is a rogue vagabond type with a hippie chick aesthetic, which is all part of her magnetism and appeal. Many regard her portrayal, overall, to be one of the best and most solid aspects of the adaptation. This is partially because so little was changed, but also because Ferguson's lilting drawl and scene-stealing ability made her not only terrifying, but really likable despite her inherent evil.
The major change in Flanagan's movie was her death. In the book, the Overlook Hotel does not exist because, in The Shining, the hotel was destroyed. Instead, Rose meets her end when Dan pushes her off an observation platform and she breaks her neck upon falling. Many fans were displeased with the appearance of the Overlook in the film adaptation in general because it completely changed the ending and deviated sharply from the novel by its inclusion.
Rose The Hat's Popularity Inspires Future Female Villains
Future female villains will no doubt take a page from Rose's book. While there have been quite a few female villains in horror's history, their prevalence was more limited to the '80s and '90s, with a small resurgence in the '10s, though primarily, modern horror has featured women in a paranormal or supernatural form. It could be argued that Rose is just another one of those types, but despite being superhuman, she feels very mortal and very real as a person. When considering an alternative take, primary female antagonists that have been featured in films like The Grudge and The Ring have little personality and no speaking roles.
Stephen King is good at writing female villains, as not only Rose the Hat has proven, but was also explored with Annie Wilkes in Misery and Carrie White in Carrie. Other notable female villains that are human are Angela from Sleepaway Camp and Pamela Voorhees from Friday the 13th. There's plenty of room in the genre to bring women to the forefront instead of allowing them to be continually overshadowed by their male counterparts, and Rose the Hat has very likely paved the way for their very bright future.