Jordan Peele (Credit: The Associated Press)
When it comes to pure horror filmmaking, “black stories” are still woefully under-represented unfortunately, even though it’s a genre whose supernatural or uncanny aspects and narrative structure, lends itself extremely well to conveying broad political and social commentary, and thus can be utilized as artistic tools to shed light on specific issues that affect black people worldwide.
And not just horror; science fiction, fantasy and other fantastical genres still very much lack the contributions of black filmmakers. Given how prolific black authors are in the all-encompassing speculative fiction space, there’s certainly a wealth of existing material to adapt, should a black filmmaker be in search of original (horror, fantasy, sci-fi, etc) stories to tell.
And hopefully the critical and commercial success of Jordan Peele's "Get Out" will encourage and inspire other similar work that tackles a variety of issues - social, economical, political, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Peele has made it public that "Get Out" is just the first of what he says will be a set of 5 films that will explore various societal ills via genre cinema. Speaking with Business Insider, he said the following: "I have four other social thrillers that I want to unveil in the next decade... The best and scariest monsters in the world are human beings and what we are capable of especially when we get together. I've been working on these premises about these different social demons, these innately human monsters that are woven into the fabric of how we think and how we interact, and each one of my movies is going to be about a different one of these social demons."
He doesn't share specifics beyond the above quote, so all we can do is wait until he unveils what the next "social thriller" as he calls them, will be.
But he's absolutely right about the scariest monsters in the world being human; consider a popular TV thriller like "The Walking Dead." Yes, the zombie action can be fun to watch, but they really serve as a backdrop for the human drama that unfolds weekly, and that has captivated audiences since its first season. And in the age of Trump, the so-called boogeymen aren't the immigrants, the Muslims and the disenfranchised he routinely attacks; one can argue that the boogeyman is Trump himself, as well as his political cabal; or the 1% who wield much of the economic and political power in this country. The point here is that there's much material to work with if you're a content creator, and any of the speculative fiction genres are perfectly suited for that kind of exploration.
So now we wait to find out what other "social thrillers" Mr. Peele is cooking up for us!
This news reminded me of plans the crew behind the "Black Dynamite" movie shared 3 years ago; that their intention was always to produce 3 different kinds of Blaxploitation movies, with "Black Dynamite" being the first. The next one in the trilogy, the said, would be a 1970’s set horror film, which star Michael Jai White said they were developing at the time. He also compared the "Black Dynamite" posse to the Monty Python group that spawned TV series, films, touring stage shows, albums, books and a stage musical – suggesting that they had somewhat similar plans to expand and diversify the "Black Dynamite" brand. So far, a cartoon series is all that's come from that expansion; it aired on the Cartoon Network's late night programming block, Adult Swim for 2 seasons (and is currently streaming on Hulu). No word on any of the other possibilities, notable the 1970's set horror film.
Also, earlier this year, Ernest Dickerson shared that he's written an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired horror movie set during the Trump presidency, titled "The Haunted Palace."
“I started it as kind of a cautionary tale hoping that Donald Trump wouldn’t become President and then, when I was almost done writing the screenplay, he did become President,” Dickerson explained during a press conference at International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), where his latest feature, the much anticipated "Double Play," made its World Premiere last month.
It's one of several projects on Dickerson's to-do list, including an adaptation of Octavia Butler's "Clay's Ark" which we announced on this blog 3 years ago. As is the often the case when it comes to major hurdles that need to be cleared in filmmaking, financing is a struggle.
We can only hope that these intriguing projects from Dickerson, Peele, and others eventually become realities.
But if you're a black filmmaker working in any of the speculative fiction genres, please let us know who you are; keep us informed as you progress on whatever projects you're creating. We love to highlight these uncommon attempts.