Happy spooky season my ghoulish friends! *sigh* Fall, the season of comfy sweaters, cozy weather, mischievous trick-or-treaters, and of course scary movies. Truly the most wonderful time of year…sorry not sorry Santa. I must say I love everything about Halloween, but confession time: I didn’t begin to truly love horror movies until adulthood. But before you egg my house let me explain. Horror has some incredible classics no doubt about it, but as a black woman it was extremely difficult to buy into a genre that habitually killed of black characters first and pumped out stereotypical roles for characters of color or women. Was I supposed to keep feeling excited about a genre whose limit when it came to marginalized characters were black sidekick, sacrificial lamb, or the reoccurring promiscuous blonde and final girl tropes? How could I love horror when I couldn’t even see myself represented in it? What was the point of trying to escape into a genre that was committed to overlooking my existence?
In one form or another, horror has always been a part of my life. From reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books religiously, or binge-watching hit shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sabrina the Teenage Witch with my older sister. How’s that for nostalgia for you? Although I’ve grown up with horror and love not only the characters, but the genre’s creativity, the genre struggled to create nuanced main characters who represented me. A genre filled with a plethora of monsters struggled with diversity amongst mortals; go figure. However, what I didn’t know was that as the years progressed, the genre was undergoing a rebirth and that became clear when Get Out debuted. While I watched Jordan Peele’s debut film, my mouth was open the entire time due to the film’s vivid imagery, relevant themes, and powerful symbols. But more importantly, the film’s unapologetic portrayal of the black experience and this country’s love-hate relationship to blackness floored me. Besides, what’s more scary than systematic racism, am I right? Leaving the theater I felt so seen and as the genre continued its resurgence, I was thrilled to see that Get Out wasn’t a one time thing; and finally we could begin to see ourselves in the future of horror.
In what feels like a blur the genre started to modernize itself, attempting to evolve from its white male gaze origins and trying to reach a new generation of horror fans. Hits like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Us, LoveCraft Country, Ratched, The Walking Dead, Midnight Mass and The Haunting of Bly Manor not only sent chills up our spines, but reflected our diverse communities while becoming new classics. A genre that at first struggled with inclusivity is now bursting with diverse new content that critique today’s society, while not holding back on the scares. No need to call Father Paul this isn’t a miracle, but this is what happens when you view inclusivity as an asset and not a setback.
Not to be outdone, shows like Haunting of Hill House or YOU also excel because they’re not forcing diverse characters to ensue company quotas; but instead they have such great social awareness embedded in impeccable storytelling. YOU while on the outside looks like any other thriller, is actually a perfect satire of the genre, critiquing our ability to romanticize and excuse problematic, not to mention violent behavior, from white men. Plus, they don’t kill off their black characters first? Oh how long I’ve waited for YOU.
I’ve grown up admiring horror and its fantastical elements; while it took a few decades, it feels nice to fall back in love with this beloved genre. So grab some popcorn (or some candy-corn!) and binge-watch something spooky tonight! I’ll drop some of my favorites down below for you to check out! Happy spooky season and Happy Halloween!
Featured Image via BuzzFeed
- His House (Netflix)
- YOU (Netflix)
- Vampires vs. The Bronx (Netflix)
- The Walking Dead (Netflix)
- The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
- LoveCraft Country (HBO Max)
- Gerald’s Game (Netflix)
- Castlevania (Netflix)
- Squid Game (Netflix)
- Midnight Mass (Netflix)
- The Haunting of Hill House anthology (Netflix)
- Ratched (Netflix)
- Stranger Things (Netflix)
- Watchmen (HBO Max)