Xavier Burgin // 2019 // USA // Documentary // 83 min // AMC Networks/ Shudder
Interviews with: Ashlee Blackwell, Keith David, Tony Todd, William Crain, Monica Suriyage, Rusty Cundieff
Language: English // Subtitles: English // Siren Competition
Genre fans know Night of the Living Dead is not only a seminal work for the zombie subgenre but also a movie milestone that casually casts a Black actor as the heroic lead. Yet for every humane depiction of African-American life, cinema’s history is sadly more littered with the crudest of stereotypes. Xavier Burgin’s directorial debut, Horror Noire, delivers exactly what its subtitle promises: A History of Black Horror.
From racial caricatures and men in blackface to monsters metaphorically representing the (sexualized) ‘dangers’ of blackness, Horror Noire puts the worst offenders on blast. Burgin’s insightful documentary navigates the African-American community’s conflicted feelings towards the blaxploitation craze and celebrates the resourcefulness and ingenuity with which African-American filmmakers and actors went on to either create their own stories or powerfully subvert the spaces and roles they were given in the nineties and beyond.
An in-depth account that’s always eye-opening and never stuffy, Horror Noire features interviews with the likes of Tony Todd (Candyman), William Crane (Blacula), Paula Jai Parker (Tales from the Hood) and a host of other voices to be reckoned with. Horror Noire wears its genre-loving heart on its sleeve and will introduce even the most seasoned horror buffs to a selection of deep cuts that require immediate inclusion on their movie watchlist. Presented as a Shudder original, Burgin’s debut is as enthralling as it is educational.
Text: Tom Kiesecoms