My latest marathon of horror films with Black characters in the forefront came from cable, Tubi, and Shudder. Let’s get right into them.
BITCH ASS (2022)
Ooh. Sexy title. Tony Todd introduces this film and mentions all the classic Black horror flicks, including his own.
The social message concerns not only the aftereffects of bullying, but the goal of a Black mother to help her son elevate his social positioning by going to school instead of running with the local gang.
The gang is led by Malcolm of sitcom The Neighborhood. He sends new recruits to break into a home as part of an initiation.
Turns out “Bitch Ass” lurks in the shadows, waiting to get revenge for the way he was bullied back in school. This killer’s M.O. is adapting classic games and puzzles into death traps and challenging his victims to a competition. My favorite is the use of a human corpse for a game of Operation.
Quirky with hints of humor, the movie also has some gory and brutal kills. It definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. For instance, character cards appear on screen for the “vs. challenges” and get crossed off when a victim dies). As a result, it isn’t particularly scary—although the sets and lighting give off a creepy Saw vibe.
To add some interest to an otherwise repetitive, slasher-esque plot, we intermittently get clips that provide us with Bitch Ass’s backstory. Overall, I had fun with this one.
TRAP HOUSE (2023)
Another Saw-style flick, this one starts with a gory first kill scene and a Black detective discovering this case is personal for him.
The detective learns that some crazy shirtless dude in a gas mask is renting out space, catching victims in his web, and then moving on to a new rental space.
The detective goes undercover in the seedy world of drug dealers and worms his way into one of these trap houses with a bunch of drug heads. Awesome.
However, as sleazy and gritty as the plot setup is, and as gory as some of the traps are, this film felt too sleek and subdued to live up to its premise.
Not to mention, our leading man detective seems to take a back seat for most of the movie as everyone else is killed off.
Even the final battle with the killer is low key…and the shirtless nut doesn’t get enough screen time either, so his motivation and backstory are totally lacking. A crazy shirtless dude in a gas mask deserves to be interesting, and he’s just not. This dude just sits back and lets his traps do all the work, which is a bummer, because he’s creepier than all the traps combined.
THE ANGRY BLACK GIRL AND HER MONSTER (2022)
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster updates the Frankenstein and Pet Sematary concepts and sets them in a lower income Black neighborhood to wrap the horror in a hint of social commentary.
Queen Latifah’s daughter from The Equalizer stars as a super smart girl who goes to a special school, where she is treated differently for being intelligent, outspoken…and Black. Her father, played by Tyreese from The Walking Dead, has her back after she’s treated with prejudice by school personnel just the way we’ve seen it happening in real life on viral videos.
Now this is where you have to suspend your disbelief. This teenage girl not only steals dead bodies, but she somehow has a whole lab that no one knows about.
She believes death is a disease, and intends to prove it by resurrecting her older brother, who died as a result of gang activity, thereby curing him of death.
While the social structure of her town is developed for the first 45 minutes, the initial revival of her brother is underwhelming. It’s after she has a freaky nightmare about him that he goes on a killing rampage.
From that point on it is fun, he’s freaky, and there are some brutal kills. It’s just a bummer that the horror doesn’t kick in until halfway through the film, because he is a cool and creepy monster.