The enlightening doc Horror Noire lays out black history through black horror films

“Black history is black horror,” novelist and scholar Tananarive Due says toward the beginning of Xavier Burgin’s new documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. In line with Due’s insight, the film isn’t just about black horror films, it’s about the way the horror genre reflects and connects with African-American history. The result is a thoughtful, exhilarating watch, which finds hope in even the bloodiest maw.

The documentary starts at the beginning of the 20th century, with a discussion of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film Birth of a Nation, a hugely influential piece of racist agitprop. The film is supposed to be an epic about white American national conciliation. But for African-American viewers, its imagery of white mobs…

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