Saturday, April 20, 2024

Six horror films that address issues of systemic racism and oppression

MosaicSix horror films that address issues of systemic racism and oppression

POC horror films
Bianka Heather/THE REVIEW
Horror has long been a genre loaded with political undercurrents, a tradition that continues in these six recent films.

BY
Contributing Reporter

Spooky season has sadly come to an end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still indulge in horror movies. If you didn’t watch any horror themed films last month, then you need to like, right after you read this article. Besides, it’s totally acceptable to watch horror anytime of the year.

In horror films and scary movies, it’s often the norm for POC (people of color) to be either ridiculed, have the least lines, not be visible due to poor effects and lighting, be pushed aside the entire movie or more “cheekily,” be the first to die. People of color have unfortunately been underappreciated in the genre of horror for some time now, and the “horrors” that people of color face on a daily basis are rarely televised.

Issues of police brutality and racism are definitely scarier than a creepy looking clown — with the recent unprecedented events that have come to light thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s necessary to show our appreciation for Black creatives. I would like to highlight a few horror films that have been produced by Black directors, that showcase POC and address issues of systemic racism and oppression, whether underrated or not.

P.S — This is spoiler-free!

    1. “Get Out” (2017)

    So, we should all know about “Get Out” by Jordan Peele — the first film to win an Academy Award for best original screenplay by an African-American director. This film gave me literal GOOSEBUMPS — it paints a vivid picture of the effects of systemic racism, while exploring topics such as body snatching, fake liberalism and the internal conflict experienced by minority groups over one’s identity, known as double consciousness, a concept coined by W.E.B Du Bois. This film will take you on a wild ride just like your classic horror films, but it’s also jam packed with jokes and little easter eggs — it’s a must watch!

    Also, for those who are unaware, systemic racism is a form of racism that is seen as “normal” within societies and organizations, and it happens everywhere. Being that it’s seen as normal, those who are not targeted do not see the problem with their actions and in turn, perpetuate racial injustice. It’s DEADLY and deserves to be talked about so that change will hopefully occur somewhere down the line.

    2. “Us” (2019)

    Created by the same director, Jordan Peele blessed us again with “Us.” This film is dark and creepy but in a good way. It encourages conversations on systemic oppression, social inequality and the duality of human nature, while simultaneously exploring the concept of the American dream, which Peele does beautifully. This film centers on an African-American family whose life is thrown into disarray when a group of doppelgängers called the Tethered begin to wreak havoc and terrorize them. I swore not to give any spoilers, but it’s definitely a spooky watch for the inquiring mind.

    3. “Antebellum” (2020)

    This psychological thriller was just released last month, directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz. It’s a dark take on modern-day slavery, led by a fan favorite — Janelle Monae! This film brings to light our country’s dark past when it comes to issues of systemic racism and the everlasting effects that slavery has on the Black community. If you’ve ever read “Kindred” by Octavia Butler, this has similar undertones.

    4. “Vampires vs. the Bronx” (2020)

    This new Netflix original is much like the horror comedies from the mid ‘80s and ‘90s. It was written and directed by Osmany Rodriguez and follows a group of teenagers who are attempting to save the Bronx from being overrun by vampires — *cough* gentrification. Definitely a pure, spooky take on a serious topic, without any gore or hard to understand symbolism.

    5. “Black Box” (2020)

    This science-fiction horror film showcases the concept of self-identity (or double consciousness) as an amnesiac undergoes a severe experimental treatment to recover his memories after a car crash. Directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, this film navigates the topics of race, oppression and broken families with stunning visuals and symbolism. Acclaimed actress — Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable in “The Cosby Show,” plays a daunting neurologist in this film and helps bring it to life. If you enjoy watching slow burns, you’re in for a treat.

    6. “Candyman” (2021)

    Last but not least, a remake of “Candyman” is set to premiere August of next year, directed by Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta. It’s described by DaCosta as being a spiritual sequel to the previous releases. Knowing the creative genius of Peele, there’s no doubt that this will be an amazing watch, packed with heavy symbolism on issues that affect society and people of color. I’d advise you not to say his name five times into a mirror until after you’re able to watch this release.

Much like a majority of the world posting black squares these past few months as a trend, this small show of activism means nothing unless you actively advocate and fight for equality. You can do so by attending peaceful protests, donating if you’re able to and sharing your knowledge on topics of oppression, inequality and racism with those around you. These six horror films are jam-packed with information that will give you goosebumps as well as a place to start.

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