‘Horror Noire’ Highlights Black Voices in Horror Cinema’s History

     Horror Noire is a new documentary discussing the representation of black voices in horror cinema history, directed by Xavier Burgin.

     The beauty of this documentary is that it discusses so much of the cinema in the context of what was happening at the time of each era of film.  It talks about some pretty horrific real world events, such as the Tuskegee experiments, and how they informed films at the time.  Stereotypes and tropes were born and shifted through each era, depending on societal perception and current events.  The interviews are honest, and relatable.  It highlights our shifting values, and talks about how exciting a time we are in for horror cinema.  While so much has changed, we still have a long way to go.  But now the door has been opened for an exciting and diverse future, and I loved the hopeful tone of this film looking ahead.

     The real win for Horror Noire for me is that it puts in to context why it is so important to represent diversity on the big screen.  It encourages a white audience to dig deep and really think about what it would truly be like to never see yourself when you go to a movie.  Or, to see yourself and think that the world views you as less than, or believes that you are limited in what you can accomplish.  Or even worse, that you can never be a hero.  As a lover of movies, and a believer in the idea that movies can be so unifying and inspiring, this breaks my heart.  I feel that it is a message that is not discussed enough, and a message that people really need to hear.

     This film states its purpose clearly to white audiences: “This is not about you.”  And it really isn’t.  White audiences have shown that they can, and will, embrace diverse stories, and this documentary is not here to tell white audiences that they can’t enjoy black stories.  While Get Out was made for everyone to enjoy, it was also made to mean more to a black audience than a white audience.  In the end, it was a very human story, and everyone who enjoyed it found something to talk about.  But, it was made to be something special for a black audience, and it was.

     This film was clearly put together by horror lovers.  The research is incredible, and I will definitely be seeking out the books mentioned throughout.  Drawing from an amazing array of films, movie and horror lovers will be over the moon.  Examining history through the context of film is an amazing way to highlight how black voices have struggled to be heard, and the ways that some films have succeeded and failed throughout the years.  Most importantly, it delivers a message that people have a need to feel seen and heard, and why shouldn’t that courtesy be extended to everyone?

     An important documentary that we’ll be discussing for years, this is an entertaining and informative powerhouse for movie lovers.  A perfect pick for Black History Month, you can check out Horror Noire on Shudder now!

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