A new adaptation of Dark Horror, a horror anthology film, released today on Shudder and AMC Plus. In addition to the highly acclaimed and provocative writing, directing, production and acting, Dark Horror sets itself apart from other horror films by its team of black directors and writers who artfully tell six suspenseful stories through six different lenses. The documentary is directed by Kimani Ray Smith and features writers such as Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, Ezra Claytan Daniels, Victor LaValle, Shernold Edwards and Al Leston. Today’s eagerly awaited release marks the first adaptations of the anthology by Antananarivo Due. An incredible accomplishment given the limited success black producers and directors have had in penetrating the horror film genre and the ongoing challenges black actors have endured playing stereotypical roles in horror films.
An original anthology film by Shudder, Dark Horror, addresses all of the typical horror movie characteristics seen in most films, including supernatural creatures and evil demonic characters. But the documentary takes a strong socio-political stance by examining how black people in America have been exploited and pathologized in the film genre and society at large. By adapting the founding book by Robin Means Coleman, Dark Horror, the documentary presents “the living and the dead with the help of unpublished interviews and archives of academics and creators; the voices that have outlived the genre’s past trends, those that shape its future, ”- all to create a politically astute and downright frightening horror.
Black people sharing space in the horror movie genre took a long time to arrive. In a trailer for the film, Antananarivo Due says: “We have always loved horror. It’s just that horror hasn’t always loved us. Cinema and television have been and continue to be a white-dominated space, both in front and behind the scenes. This is especially true for the horror genre. When black actors started to be cast in horror movies, they mostly played the role of pimps, prostitutes, or evil antagonists. Years later, black actors graduated to only play stereotypical roles, but limited themselves to playing characters who were usually the first to be killed. Besides the groundbreaking work of William Crain in Blacula, it was practically unheard of for black directors or producers to be in charge of directing and scripting horror films. That is to say until now.
Fortunately, the recent success of films like Jordan Peele’s Get out, and We, the remake of Candyman by Nia DaCosta, and Dark Horror have played a vital role in offering black actors, directors, producers and screenwriters a seat at an undiversified and one-dimensional table. The most recent adaptation of Dark Horror is no different and has been a labor of love for Antananarivo Due. American Book Award, NAACP Image Award and British Fantasy Award-winning author Tananarive Due is a speaker at UCLA – teaching dark horror and Afrofuturism – and executive producer of the documentary. A prominent voice in black speculative fiction for over 20 years, Due’s early adaptations of the anthology reflect the renowned writer’s talent and passion to carefully examine and describe the intersection between horror and the black experience in the United States.
In this most recent adaptation, Due invites audiences to immerse themselves in a historical re-enactment of six different worlds that beautifully illustrate the issues affecting black people in America through a non-pathological or exploitative lens. Instead, Due highlights and celebrates the complexities and strengths of Blackness. “We have gone from being a focal point of fear to being a hero. It was important for Due to document this transformative passage from victim to winner. So if you’re looking for a horror movie that goes beyond predictable storylines and doesn’t rely on gore to make up for poor scriptwriting, look no further. Dark Horror is the perfect Halloween horror movie to chill out, that will leave you guessing and have you hanging off the edge of your seat while doing so.