In the trailer for Shudder’s first documentary, Horror Noire: A History Of Black Horror—which premiered yesterday on Entertainment Weekly—you can overhear author and UCLA professor Tananarive Due discuss her general sentiment on the black portrayals in horror. She says, “We’ve always loved horror. It’s just that horror hasn’t always loved us.” What makes her words resonate with so many black horror fans (and other fans of color) is that so much of the horror we consume either leaves us out of the narrative entirely, or portrays us in an unsavory and unjust light—which is why a documentary like Horror Noire is so important.
Directed by Xavier Burgin, Horror Noire aims to trace the history of black representation in horror films, with interviews that include (but are not limited) to Get Out writer/director Jordan Peele, the Candyman himself, Tony Todd, and The Craft’s Rachel True. It’s executive produced by Due, Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman (author of the book Horror Noire: Blacks In American Horror Films From The 1890s To Present), Fangoria Editor-in-Chief Phil Nobile Jr., and Kelly Ryan of Stage 3 Productions. Produced and co-written by Ashlee Blackwell and Danielle Burrows, the film will be released exclusively on Shudder on February 7
On her involvement with the Horror Noire documentary, Due says in a statement:
“After I saw Oscar winner Jordan Peele’s Get Out, I created a UCLA class around Black Horror called The Sunken Place. The text I recommended was Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman’s Horror Noire: Blacks In American Horror Films From The 1890s To The Present. So I was so thrilled to help bring this story to life on the screen. Horror Noire is about the history of black horror films, but it’s also a testament to the power of representation and how horror is such a visceral way to fight racial trauma: our real pain and fear, but from a safer distance — while we get stronger.”
Co-writer and co-producer Ashlee Blackwell—creator of Graveyard Shift Sisters, a site dedicated to shining a light on black women in horror, and a friend of this writer’s—expresses her passion for this documentary as well:
There are messages of humanity and survival that Black storytellers and performers have been expressing in horror since the genre’s beginning. It’s been an exciting journey to work with a team to bring this once hidden history to life and out of the shadows.
If the trailer has you excited to see this documentary, Horror Noire will have its world premiere courtesy of Beyond Fest and the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood on February 1, as well as its east coast premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on February 4, After Horror Noire’s premiere in Brooklyn, a panel will be held featuring Due, Blackwell, filmmaker R. Shanea Williams, and comics writer Greg Anderson Elysee.
Tickets for the American Cinematheque screening are still pending, but you can buy tickets to the BAM screening and panel discussion here.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified Tananarive Due as Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman. We regret the error.