Two imposing personalities are at the centre of this intensely atmospheric drama: horror writer Shirley Jackson and her husband Stanley Hyman, a literary critic and college professor. When young graduate student Fred Nemser and his pregnant wife Rose move in with the Hymans in the autumn of 1964, they soon find themselves under the magnetic spell of their brilliant and proudly unconventional hosts. But Shirley’s need to nurture her writing is a ravenous beast that threatens to devour Fred and Rose’s own relationship. A group of equally formidable creative figures is responsible for this chilling treat. One of them is director Josephine Decker, who with each new film hones a striking mix of boldness and sensitivity. And Elisabeth Moss is delightfully unsettling as the complicated Shirley Jackson, an author who has only recently been recognised as a major figure in the American Gothic tradition and on whose life this film is loosely based. Her troubled psyche permeates the film and leaves us as giddy as if we too were under her wicked spell.
by Josephine Decker
with Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman
USA 2020 English 106’ Colour


  • Elisabeth Moss (Shirley)
  • Michael Stuhlbarg (Stanley)
  • Odessa Young (Rose)
  • Logan Lerman (Fred)


Director Josephine Decker
Screenplay Sarah Gubbins
Cinematography Sturla Brandth Grovlen
Editing David Barker
Music Tamar-Kali
Sound Design Leslie Shatz
Sound Pam DeMetrius-Thomas
Production Design Sue Chan
Costumes Amela Baksic
Producers Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Sue Naegle, Sarah Gubbins, Jeffery Soros, Simon Horsman, Elisabeth Moss
Executive Producer Martin Scorsese

Produced by

Killer Films


Josephine Decker

Josephine Decker’s feature film Shirley recently had its world premiere at Sundance in 2020 where she won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Auteur Filmmaking. Madeline’s Madeline had its world premiere at Sundance in 2018, and went on to screen at the Berlinale. Her first two narrative features premiered in the Berlinale Forum in 2014. She also explores collaborative storytelling via TV directing, documentary making, performance art, accordion-playing, acting, teaching at CalArts and Princeton University, and leading artist residencies. She was born in London in 1981.

Filmography (selection)

2005 Naked Princeton; 29 min. · Naked Princeton; short film 2008 Bi the Way; documentary · Bi the Way; 85 min., co-directed by Brittany Blockman 2009 Where Are You Going, Elena?; short film 2011 Me the Terrible; 11 min. 2014 Butter on the Latch; 72 min., Forum 2014 2010 Sqeezebox; short film 2014 Thou Wast Mild and Lovely; 76 min., Forum 2014 2012 Me the Terrible; short film 2017 The Nothing is Coming; 10 min. 2013 Butter on the Latch 2014 Thou Wast Mild and Lovely 2017 Flames; documentary · Mosaic 2018 Madeline’s Madeline · The Mask Task; short film 2020 Shirley

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020