When they say the future of horror is Black and female, they aren’t lying. With Nia DaCosta’s highly anticipated film "Candyman" on its way to theaters next August, it cannot be denied that this genre’s door is being burst wide open for emerging talent to come through and make their mark.
So who’s got next?
It’s been announced that actress and award-nominated filmmaker Reagan Gomez is set to direct her first feature film, "Charcuterie" in spring 2021. Written by award-winning screenwriter and co-host of "Afro Horror" podcast, Chris Courtney Martin, according to a press release sent to Colorlines, the comedy-horror centers on:
Kenni, a bright young woman who has sacrificed her dreams of upward mobility to raise her incarcerated sister’s teenage son. Following the sudden death of a beloved neighborhood bodega owner, a white hipster couple buys his storefront and transforms it into an artisanal deli catering to the city’s elite. When longtime residents start disappearing around the charcuterie, Kenni starts to suspect the new owners may be cannibalizing more than the local culture.
(No word on who will play Kenni, as they are currently casting.)
Like Netflix’s "Vampires vs. The Bronx," "Charcuterie" explores the dangers that communities of color face when their beloved neighborhoods become slowly taken over by white people looking for cheaper housing, a topic Gomez can definitely relate to.
“As a Black American woman who grew up in Philadelphia, I’m no stranger to gentrification. With ’Charcuterie,’ I want to explore the insidious side of this system. Imagine, strangers outside of your culturally rich community move in, only to have immediate access to resources that have been kept from you," Gomez told Colorlines.
She added: “And what if these gentrifiers purposely move into these neighborhoods for the sole purpose of doing harm to residents…knowing they’ll get the benefit of the doubt? You’d fight. You have to because no one is coming to save you. ’Charcuterie’ is a horror-comedy about a young Black woman, being forced to take back the power life has stripped from her in order to save the community she loves.”
While Gomez may be most known for her roles as the ’90s "It Girl" in "The Parent ‘Hood," "One On One," numerous hip-hop videos, and currently Ava DuVernay’s "Queen Sugar," over the past decade she has been gaining directing and creating creative credits with music videos and web series including her 2016 Gotham Awards-nominated apocalypse drama, "Surviving."
With Martin’s Black female-centered razor-sharp scripts having racked up plenty of accolades over the years including winning the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at Urbanworld Film in 2016 for her thriller, "The Pale Horse," it should come as no surprise that "Charcuterie" is making its own kind of history, representation-wise:
‘Charcuterie’ is one of the first horror feature films to be fully helmed by Black women and have a women-led (Martin identifies as a non-binary woman) creative team. Statistics for women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Disabled feature filmmakers are tracked and released regularly, but Black women and non-binary people in horror have been notoriously excluded from traditional filmmaking to the point where statistics for such films don’t exist. ‘Charcuterie’ will be among the first feature films to be written and directed exclusively by Black women.
For Martin, representation behind the screen is just as important as in front, in order to fully understand and accurately depict the characters and the world they face.
"We knew it was important that Kenni’s perspective be fully understood across the writing, directing, and producing of this film—because to understand the real horror of what this character is up against, you have to truly understand the racism, the classism, the misogynoir that were the Big Bads in her life before the antagonists ever showed up. Because I wrote this film with the intention of serving the community it’s about. And the only way to do that right is to start from the top. Also, it’s just way past time for this," Martin told Colorlines.
"The range of representation within the Black characters was honestly just de facto of my lived experience. We hear ‘we are not a monolith’ all the time, and most of us know it to be true, but we don’t always see it in our media. I’ve met every single one of these characters at some point in my life, so it’s not so wild that they should end up in the same movie."
As if you needed more to sell you on this film, "Twilight Zone" writer and executive producer of "Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror," Tananarive Due highlighted that “Reagan Gomez will potentially become the first Black woman to direct a horror feature film that is also written by a Black woman [Martin] since Kasi Lemmon’s Eve’s Bayou in 1997.”
While that accomplishment definitely shouldn’t have taken that long given that it’s 2020, we still love to see it.
‘Charcuterie’ is produced by Under The Stairs Entertainment’s Sandra Leviton and Hyperbolic Media’s Rachel Liu, alongside writer Martin. Gavin Levinson of ROAR is Executive Producing. Learn more here.