‘Tis the season of haunted houses, scary costumes, and horror films. As a black person, I could tell you that stereotypically I want nothing to do with any of those things. But since Halloween is my favorite holiday, that would be a lie.
So far, this October has produced some pretty cool things. Regular television networks are playing the usual scary yet awesome films, I moved to Washington, DC so there’s always something going on that’s related to any given holiday, and the movie industry keeps popping out interesting trailers for upcoming films. One that caught my eye though, was Jordan Peele’s Get Out. While watching the trailer, I kept waiting for it to become funny, because you know – black people are always the comic relief in horror films, and if not then they’re surely the overbearing brawn, know-it-all asshole that “don’t take shit from nobody”. So after realizing this movie was nothing but serious, it got me thinking: a black person is finally playing a leading role in a horror film – which means they won’t die! Right? Let’s explore that a little…
Any decent horror movie buff knows that there are rules to horror films:
Having sex = You’re dead
You’re a virgin = You live
If you don’t see a corpse = Assume they’re still alive (This actually goes for any genre)
The jerk/drug addict/lovey dovey loser = Dead
POC (Person of Color) = Assume they’re going to die…because they usually do
These are just a few rules that are true to most horror films. So, how will these movies go if we start surviving in them? For starters:
- Expect horror films to be shorter. While shorter than the average drama, horror films usually range from 90 to 120 minutes. Enough time to get in some good jump out scenes, some gore, a mediocre sex scene and kill a person of color in the most stupid way possible…like in the most recent Blair Witch film where the black female was killed because she climbed a tree with an INFECTED FOOT just to be thrown to the ground by the witch and dragged out of frame. I can’t even apologize for that spoiler because we all saw it coming in the preview – they didn’t show that in the preview…they just showed a black person and…you just knew. But I digress, horror films will get much shorter because POCs just won’t put up with that nonsense. If a curtain fluttered the wrong way rest assured we will be out the door.
- Expect a lot more common sense. This isn’t to say other races don’t use common sense in horror films but…you know, never mind, I just won’t even.
- Expect things to go against the norm. Having a black person play the lead in a horror film is huge. For years African Americans have gotten the credit for a good comedy or drama but horror was one of those genres we usually never touched. As a lead character in a horror film it’s not likely that a POC will really play the “curious” or “clueless” type. So that will give a new and compelling edge to how we see the movie and perhaps it won’t make things so damn predictable.
I’m truly excited to see an unfamiliar face as the lead, and curious to see how Get Out will unfold. But what’s more is that I’m thrilled that hopefully this film will open doors for more variety in the casting of horror films. I hope people will see that POCs aren’t just the funny man or the tough guy – but actual people whose emotions and wit range higher than a high school junior.