“Black as Night” puts a black woman at the center of a vampire horror movie
The Welcome to the Blumhouse the film series returns to Amazon Prime in October with two new films, Black as the night and Bingo hell. In the midst of a new wave of horror ushered in with Jordan Peele’s 2017 film, Get out, these films also focus on black and brown voices.
Black as the night, in particular, is at the start of a new wave of black women in horror.
What is Blumhouse’s Black as Night all about?
Located over a summer in present-day New Orleans. Black as the night centers, 15-year-old Shawna (Asjha Cooper) only came to life after Hurricane Katrina. Painfully shy and gentle, mostly due to the dark tint of her skin, Shawna prefers to hide under her bob and long sleeves in the shade of her best friend, Pedro (Fabrizio Guido).
After being bitten by a vampire one evening, Shawna enlists Pedro and his crush, Chris (Mason Beauchamp), to prevent vampires from continually harming others. In her quest for answers, Shawna encounters something much more threatening than she thinks. A vampire boss (Keith David) wants revenge.
In the middle of her journey to right the wrongs of the Vampire King, Shawna begins to find her voice. But in the end, she might lose more than she ever expected.
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“Black as Night” is part of a new wave of horror for black women
Of I still know what you did last summer and Kendra by Bianca Lawson in Buffy the vampire slayerThere have been glimpses of black women in horror in the past. However, it was only more recently in films like Jordan Peele’s. We and the crossed out Nia DaCosta Candy that black women have been propelled to the fore in the genre.
Directed by Maritte Lee Go and written by Sherman Payne, Black as the night retains all of the elements of the vampire lore we love, but positions them through the lens of a self-conscious black girl trying to come to terms with her shifting family dynamics and teenage angst.
“Black as Night” highlights important social themes
Black as the night has some issues with regards to the storytelling and pacing of the film. However, it does highlight critical social themes that are often swept under the rug. Being a teenager is hard enough, especially when you’re fighting vampires. But Shawna also deals with colorism, her mother’s drug addiction, and gentrification, among other things.
Despite being born after Katrina, Shawna slowly realizes how the horrific catastrophe changed the city forever, eviscerating many parts of the black community. Additionally, as Shawna learns more about herself and her condition, she is also forced to face the past.
As Shawna focuses on herself, she begins to understand the circumstances of the present and finally has the courage not to succumb to victimization. Although Black as the night there’s a lot going on, and everything doesn’t go together, watching a rare black vampire hunter was alluring.
Black as the night premieres on Amazon, Oct. 1.