I don’t see the American dream; I see the American nightmare“. -Malcolm X


2020 feels like something out of The Twilight Zone. Horror can be a means of reckoning with history. History is grim, it was never great. If 2006’s Apocalypto wasn’t scary enough, the ending still sends shivers down my spine.

Horror has a history of racism, like history itself, with the “token” first to die or the “mythical negro”. With the popularity of Get Out, you could even say that black history is black horror. If you ask me the scariest film I’ve ever seen, people are sometimes surprised when I say 12 Years a Slave, if art is about creating empathy not only did Steve McQueen transcend that, but Chiwetel Ejiofor so powerfully brought us into seeing the experience of slavery from the perspective of a free person that it was the ultimate body horror.

Horror Noire has been breaking through the white-centric view of the horror genre ever since Duane Jones starred in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead which showed that black actors could be leads, protectors, and heroes. Today, it’s also gaining traction quickly outside of Hollywood.  With Lovecraft Country renewed for a second season and Jordan Peele’s Candyman reboot out next year making us wait, we have drawn up a list to stay in and binge on this Halloween. 


His House, 2020

Writer-director Remi Weekes makes his film debut about a Sudanese couple seek asylum in the UK but find something evil lurking in their council flat. Feelings of isolation and trauma create the atmosphere of being lost in psychological detachment from reality. With all of us having to stay inside with no escape, this is especially creepy this time of year. Now streaming on Netflix.


In Fabric, 2018

Marianne Jean-Baptiste stars in this beautiful stylized British film about a killer dress, being lonely and single. Yup! Get ready to literally be scared of your clothes and your life. While it sounds macabre, it’s more satirical. Someone needs to call the fashion police ASAP and stopping shopping for a while.


Good Manners, 2017

What if the ending of Rosemary’s Baby was just the start? This Brazilian gem somehow slipped the wider audience and has just got around by word of mouth.  Isabél Zuaa stars in what first looks like a commentary are class, motherhood, and love, before taking an even deeper dive into the genre. You get two movies for the price of one in this!


Beloved, 1998

First, if you haven’t read the book, shame on you, but it’s never too late! Especially in the current climate.  There’s been a lot of debate if the film falls into the horror category, but the book has haunted me this long and continues to. Infanticide is one of the biggest taboos from a mother and rarely do we think of the mothers beyond the labels of good and evil. Only an evil mother would could her own child, right? Beloved is full of intersecting narratives, which is one of the reasons why it is also utterly beautiful and haunting.


Spell, 2020

This is the only film I haven’t seen, but it’s on my must-see list. It’s about an affluent father who miraculously survives a private plane crash in rural Appalachia. Unfortunately, he becomes suspicious of the elderly couple who take him in to nurse him back to health with ancient Hoodoo remedies. Reviews still aren’t in, but I want to judge for myself.


Atlantics, 2019

If horror isn’t your thing, then you can’t go wrong with this Senegalese ghost romance streaming now on Netflix. Not only was it selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, but Obama listed it as one of his favorite films of the year. Director Mati Diop is the future of French cinema.


Ma, 2019

If lonely middle-aged women don’t scare you already, then this film will. Like Stephen King’s Misery, there are definitely some mental health issues. The film isn’t without its questionable racial politics as MA has been criticized for racist stereotypes of black women to get the audience anxious and afraid, but it’s also rare to see a horror movie with a black female lead as the villain, but it’s a perfect example of “revenge horror”.  Octavia Spencer can have the pick of many roles, but she definitely has taken gambles with films like Snowpiercer and The Shape of Water, which is one of the reasons why we love her.


Pinky Pinky, 2020

This South African film follows an urban legend not far off from Candyman, Bloody Mary, or Hanako-san.  It’s a made for tv movie, but that is the future of cinema.  This will leave you afraid to go to the bathroom.


Blade, 1998

Two things to get off my chest: first, before The Matrix sunglasses and sleek leather, there was Blade and all those buckles look like ALYX before ALYX.  Second, Blade started Marvel’s film success, while some people were excited to get the “first” black superhero franchise with Black Panther, Blade fans knew there was more than one black superhero.  Go back and watch Wesley Snipes before Mahershala Ali takes on the role slated to be released in 2022.


The Girl with All The Gifts, 2016

This is a British horror flick from Colm McCarthy who also directed the Black Museum episode of Black Mirror. The film will make you rethink the way white society unconsciously sees zombies as they are traditionally associated with Black Magic or Voodoo, but here the zombie girl is the hero you have been waiting for as one critic perfectly dubbed it.


The People Under the Stairs, 1991

I remember the trailer scaring me before even watching the movie as a kid, as an adult I get lots of the anti-Republican sentiment. In the 90s, with NWA and Boyz n the Hood, there was a media spotlight on the hood and out of it was also got a new wave of horror with Def by Temptation, Tales From the Hood to Snoop Dogg in Bones, but The People Under the Stairs felt like something straight outta Brothers Grim.


Us, 2019

Lupita Nyong’o, first off, best thing to happen. So many things I loved in this from her to the music, to the choreography to all of the twists and symbolism. When I first saw Parasite, it really reminded me of something, and later in the day, I remembered Us. They felt like spiritually separated twins, I like to think they live in the same universe. I haven’t spent so much time going back and forth on Reddit discussions as I did with Us, I wanted to read everybody’s perspective.


Candyman, 1992

Candyman raised the bar on horror and beautifully captured the decay of the Cabrini–Green Homes, the location itself is very much a lead character along with a score by Philip Glass that I can’t imagine it being remade. Helen’s character is the definition of white privilege. If you don’t know the story, just say Candyman three times and THEN watch the movie. That’s what I always tell people!



For this one, you will have to decide. I was torn about adding From Hell (loosely based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore) on the list, while it has no black characters it was directed by the Hughes Brothers, incredibly stylized. On the other hand, Ari Aster is one of the most talked-about horror directors these days. When I was watching his Hereditary I couldn’t help but think how white the film was. I decided to look up the crew to see if there were any BAM working on it. That’s when I discovered his first film, a short with an all-black cast The Strange Thing About the Johnsons.

Is it horror? No. Is it scary? Probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. Some people in the BAM community felt they were exploited by a white director others said to vilify the director would empower abusers in the world. Black men are often silenced from their own emotional experiences and the short film raises many uncomfortable questions. What does it mean for a black man to get assaulted? What does it mean for a black man to be a victim? How do we react as a society? So for The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, you be the judge but be warned, you will feel queasy.