Horror Noire is an interesting documentary that features a sit-down with some of black Hollywood's most prominent and successful actors and directors. This amazing documentary details the history and backstory of African American people in horror films from the 1940s, all the way to 2017.
If you’re a person who loves black culture and takes an interest in film history, this documentary will be sure to catch your attention as soon as the film begins. The setting of this documentary is in an old movie theater where the actors and directors are sitting in various different seats and are talking about the back story of each movie that comes up in the conversation. The overall film was brilliantly shot because it captured raw emotions on the faces of the actors and producers and how they truly felt about these various time periods and how black people were used in movies at certain times.
The special effects were used perfectly because it wasn’t overdone and they were already in a movie theater so the camera switched to showing highlights of whatever film they were talking about at the time and it was very smooth and tasteful.
The first movie is “A Birth of a Nation”, which is a racist film that features a black face, the KKK, and lynchings of African Americans. White people used this horrible movie as imagery to describe how black people acted in real life. You know how early 1900s movies displayed the black person: scared of his own shadow, uncle tom, and an odd lust for white women was portrayed.
The central goal of this film was to educate and bring awareness to how horror films portrayed black people because it was a way for racist white people to control the narrative about how real-world African Americans acted in real life. I loved the pace of this film because it told a story and described each time decade as an adjustment in the black movie industry to try to shift the narrative to be positive. But, before then, the 1970s happened. Everyone knows about the look of the 1970s: black people with large afros, large mink coats, women dressed in exposing clothes. Before I watched this film, I had no idea that this era was actually called the Blaxploitation era, and this was the idea of white movie directors to portray black people as pimps and prostitutes to try and gain profit off of them. These movies were often times, low budget and low quality because they didn’t want to make good movies, they wanted to see what would stick to the black community.
A movie by the name of Blacula changed the course of black cinematography because it was a spin-off of the classic novel, Dracula, but it featured a black man who was in power and actually was the protagonist. This differed from movies before its time where the black person was only the sidekick and was always willing to spare their lives in order to save the protagonist, who was always a white person. The sequel to Blacula, which was Scream Blacula Scream, is when African American women started to get bigger roles. Dracula’s wife, who was a black lady, actually had the chance to show off her acting skills instead of just being a sex symbol for the movie and did a fantastic job at that.
Now in the 80s, people thought that this would be the new era of films that will shift towards the positivity of black people. This was a wrong assumption. Movies, such as a Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween started to come out and this was the height of when the myth of black people always die first in horror movies began.
The conversations between the actors and directors at this point of the film are becoming more genuine and are starting to describe their own roles in black films because most of them started in the late 70s or mid-80s.
The 90s, which is my favorite part of the movie, is when Oscar-winning directors, such as Spike Lee started to tackle black issues in black films head-on with films like Menace II Society and Boyz in the Hood. This created a shift in the world because we were now able to tell the story from a real perspective instead of relying on white movie directors to put us in films as sidekicks that laughed at everything and bumped into every wall just for a cheap laugh.
Which brings us to our last film that was discussed, the award-winning Get Out written by Jordan Peele. This film is the height of black cinematography at its finest because of the realism and the way he captured the typical black person emotion. He purposefully wrote this film to cater to the black audience, but also to the rest of the world to be able to let everyone know this is how we feel and this is how racism looks. Get Out is a horror film, but it was so perfectly written that the average person will look at it as a psychological thriller.
In conclusion, Horror Noire was a brilliant documentary, and I fell as if in college if you major in films, this should be a required watch and you must be able to break it down as well.