Nine Scarily Spooky Stories Led by WOC
As an avid lover of all things spine-chilling, hair-raising, and all-around horrifying, I’m always on the look-out for incredible horror content that’s just as smart and well-written as it is scary and entertaining. And obviously, if the content also features women of color, all the better!
Below are my top recommendations for quality horror that not only meet the “chilling” factor, but also place women of color squarely at the center of their wickedly dark stories. Whether you’re looking for a great fright to binge, a compelling ghost story to keep you up late at night, or a fun flick that has just enough “creep” to fulfill your scary movie quota, you’re sure to find something on this list that gives you the heebie-jeebies.
9. Kicking off the list is the excellent foreign-language film, The Housemaid. A 2010 Korean film starring Jeon Do-yeon in the title role, the film revolves around Eun-yi, a young woman hired to nanny for a rich family in the suburbs. Before long, she becomes embroiled in a secret affair with her boss, which leads to tragic consequences for both her and the family she’s charged with. A psychological thriller that explores the lengths that those with wealth and power will go to in order to protect that status, The Housemaid is just as sexy as it is thrilling.
8. Kindred, a 2020 British horror drama, is a film that mostly leaves the gore behind, going instead for the emotional horror of finding oneself completely cut off from their life and society at large by the abusive family that they unwittingly married into. Newly widowed Charlotte, played impeccably by Tamara Lawrance, finds herself at the mercy of her cold, calculating mother-in-law and sweet, but just as dangerous brother-in-law, as she struggles with the grief of losing her husband, the confusion of whether or not she’s actually experiencing some form of perinatal depression and psychosis, and the eventual realization that her life, her body, and her child may forever be trapped in this tale of horror.
7. Before podcasts enjoyed the wild popularity that they do today, there was Alice Isn’t Dead , a Nightvale Presents production that truly set the tone for all radio dramas, horror and otherwise, made since its 2016 debut. Starring Jasika Nicole, Alice Isn’t Dead follows the story of a woman truck driver traversing the country in search of her long-missing, presumed dead wife, Alice. Filled with shocking encounters with people and towns lost in time, coded messages that point to dark entanglements with a secret agency of some sort, and, oh-yeah, supernatural serial killers, this show will have you on the edge of your seat for all three of its action-packed seasons.
6. Speaking of killer podcasts, there’s a new one on the scene that’s eerily creepy in all the right ways. The Left Right Game, led by the inimitable Tessa Thompson and supported by an all-star cast, is actually based on a popular Reddit thread of the same name. Thompson plays a UK journalist eager to make her mark on the world by investigating a group of paranormal investigators playing the eponymous game. Before long though, she realizes that what was supposed to just be a bit of fun for a group of people eager for adventure is actually a mind-bending journey that defies time and logic and is not one that everyone can or will survive.
5. Fear Street 1994 is the first of a trilogy of fun, campy, slasher movies that give a good scare and a good laugh. The small town of Shadyside seems to be cursed by poverty, hopelessness, and the occasional murder spree by teens who exhibited no such tendencies beforehand. The town is poised to forever be caught in this cycle of despair until a group of scrappy teens decides to get to the bottom of the evil that has plagued their city for centuries. The talented cast, led by Kiana Medeira, is an absolute joy to watch. And though the whole premise is about fighting off supernatural serial killers, the teenage ingenuity and courage exhibited by each of the characters is surprisingly relatable, inspiring, and just plain fun.
4. His House , a 2020 horror film, does what a great horror film is supposed to. It forces you to confront the horrors of real life. A young, married couple who has barely escaped their war-torn country of Sudan, has to contend with the complexities of navigating life in their new country of England while feeling isolated, alone, and wholly “other” in their new surroundings. Their new home, made possible by the government, also appears to be haunted. Wunmi Masaku stars in this impactful film where it’s truly difficult to decide which evil is worse – the injustices faced as a black refugee in a foreign land or the horror of being haunted in your own home?
3. The politicization of black hair is something that all black women know too well. The idea that straight hair, whether achieved by weave, press and curls, or damaging relaxers, somehow makes us seem more presentable and professional is one of the many obstacles that black women face both inside and outside of the workplace.
Bad Hair, a horror satire, takes this notion and runs with it to immensely and intentional comic effect. Anna, played by Elle Lorraine, is an assistant at Culture, a black tv station, and has big dreams of becoming a VJ. The problem in getting there? She doesn’t have the “right look”, as plainly intimated by her new boss’s assistant as she slides Anna the name of a hair stylist. Anna begrudgingly agrees to swap her natural afro for a long, shiny weave whose mysterious origins and powers set off a bewildering streak of bloodlust as Anna finally begins her ascent up the corporate ladder. Filled with such notables as the glamorous Vanessa Williams, Hollywood heavyweight, Lena Waithe, and songbird, Kelly Rowland, Bad Hair is a sure bet for a fun night in.
2. If vampires and witches is more your speed, then check out October Faction, a supernatural series based on the comic of the same name. Led by Tamara Taylor as a married mom of two, she and her husband, unbeknownst to their children, used to hunt and kill monsters that go bump in the night. When their past finally catches up with them, their family and their lives are jeopardized. Though this brilliant show was cancelled after only one season, it’s an intriguing watch and well worth your next binge.
1. If you haven’t seen Lovecraft Country yet, then truly, what are you doing with your life? Nominated for a whopping 18 Emmys in 2021, this show masterfully weaves in the real-life horror of life for black Americans in the 50s with the supernatural while also deftly exploring themes of family, love, and patriotism. The groundbreaking show tells the tale of a young black soldier recently returned home to Chicago from the war before he sets off on a journey across segregated America in search of his missing father. Along the way, he battles supernatural beings and discovers that his family might be part of a long, dark, magical legacy. Developed by the incomparable Misha Green and with blockbuster performances by Jurnee Smollett, Aunjanue Ellis, Wunmi Mosaku, and Jamie Chung, if this show is not already in your go-to horror rolodex, it should be.