There’s more modern Black horror out there than just Get Out, Us, and Candyman if you’re willing to go the indie route, and I dug up four flicks from my watchlists on Prime and Tubi, so let’s get into them.
RHYME SLAYA (2016)
This is a total hip hop street slasher that pays plenty of homage to Scream. Despite being a little too long, which causes the pacing to falter a bit, it definitely delivers on the kills.
The one problem I had with the film starts right at the first kill scene. A guy gets a very Ghost Face call asking “Who’s your favorite rapper?”, which would be fine. More than fine, actually.
But wouldn’t you know this shit goes right for the “You sound gay as fuck” line. Ugh. Look, you can argue that this is just the way rap culture is and it’s being real, but the film would have worked without going there for no reason other than to just go there, and it wouldn’t have isolated a bunch of Lil Nas X fans in the process. No one would be finishing up this film grumbling, “This is so unrealistic because none of these rappers used any anti-gay slurs!”. And this is just instance one. By the end of the film, the guys are throwing around the “d” word. Not that “d” word, but a word like that “d” word with a hard “ike”. So actually, it’s the complete opposite of that “d” word.
Anyway, our cast of characters is prepping for a small rap contest. There are plenty of performance montages, and there’s also a scummy gang of white dudes posing a threat to the club where the contest is being held.
In between all the drama (and some sexual comic relief about eating ass during a barbershop scene—don’t forget, kiddies, asses are only disgusting if they’re attached to the same gender), people get killed off by someone in a black ski mask and a hoodie with various sharp weapons. The best kill is by far when the killer “borrows” a machete from a Jason statue and slices open a dude who just came out of the shower.
By the end of the film, the killer is revealed, and the motivation is explained in a nasty little flashback scene. Then the final battle with the killer plays out more like a gang fight…in an alley…with guns.
DEATH RANCH (2020)
Taking place in Tennessee in 1971, Death Ranch starts off perfect in my book, with a shirtless hunk waiting for a ride after he escapes prison.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a hottie, but the bald daddy type who picks him up was really doing it for me. Especially when he shakes his booty during a dance montage.
Along with a woman, they go to a ranch where they think they can hide out.
But that night, our main hunk spots the fricking KKK getting ready to torture a woman at a fire. So he saves her and brings a whole lot of trouble his way.
That’s all the story you need. This is strictly a revenge flick, and the revenge is so sweet and over the top in true grindhouse style as our Black heroes fight to the death with these psychotic whites with a hunger for Black flesh.
The gore and violence never let up, so if you’re a splatter fan and want the therapeutic experience of seeing white supremacists getting what they deserve, this is one not to miss.
THE BLACK LIST ANTHOLOGY (2021)
Running just an hour long, this collection of indie shorts is a good blend of straight up horror stories, dark tales, and tales of the unexpected, with only some of them specifically tackling race issues. Stories include:
1st – this tale of a couple that stops by an abandoned building on a deserted highway for a pee break never shows the threat, but whether intended or not, it made me feel that the couple is even more vulnerable because they’re Black. It really felt like they were willingly stepping into a situation a Black couple would be too smart to get into. Had me on the edge of my seat.
2nd – this is a tale of two guys burying a body in a field after an “incident”.
3rd – a guy ponders his first time doing something awful.
4th – a girl working on her computer is having visions of a killer that looks like he should be stalking victims in a cornfield.
5th – a dude gives his girl a pep talk about their differences before taking her to meet his mom, but there are more differences than meet the eye.
6th – a young woman finds a mysterious gift marked “Don’t open till Christmas” by her tree…
7th – a guy gets more than he expected from a stripper.
8th – a woman envisions things going horrifically wrong with every guy she meets.
9th – a guy does an interview about breaking up with his girl over their differences. This feels like an extension of story 5.
10th – this tale echoes elements of stories 4 and 8.
11th – things are not what they seem when a woman gets abducted.
CALL TIME (2021)
Call Time is a slasher with pretty much no slashing. The biggest compliment I can give it is that all the guys are a bunch of cuties.
A small group of aspiring filmmakers comes to a house where a man has brought them to make the best horror movie ever. The house kind of looks like a leftover set piece from 2001 Maniacs, but there are absolutely no themes of crazy hillbillies or white supremacists here.
We spend most of the film feeling like we’re just hanging out with a bunch of people at a film workshop. I don’t understand what they were going for here, but everyone sits around talking about the craft of making movies. And talking. And talking. And talking.
There’s promise of weirdness. The man running the show is enthusiastic about making the film to the point of manic—and maybe crazy. His creepy old mother sits in a chair in a room upstairs. There’s a big butch woman with one zombie eye who tends to creep around the doors of the pretty girls.
The description of this film claims that people begin to go missing. You know when? An hour into this 90-minute movie. You know how many people? ONE. One person goes missing, killed by the most obvious choice for killer. Then everyone panics and runs around for a short time before we get the big confusing reveal of what’s really going on…or…not going on. There was a lot of opportunity here for a simple, fun film with loads of sex and slashing, but we get none of either.