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‘Horror Noire’ review: Anthology showcases Black horror

An entertaining two and a half hour movie.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

Listen to the latest episode of the AIPT Movies Podcast!

Horror Noire is a follow up to the 2019 documentary of the same name. The anthology is a showcase of Black horror from Black directors and screenwriters. The stories range from familiar creatures to psychological terror. The segments have good variety. ‘Brand of Evil’ deals with themes of greed and community while ‘Sundown’ is a sillier monster story. This keeps things fresh as Horror Noire runs around two and a half hours. Even split into six different segments, this is a long movie.

Horror Noire does not drag, however. Each story is interesting in their own way and the short length prevents any of them from wearing out their welcome. That being said, none of the installments are ever in danger of running too long. The narratives are tightly written and bring the development needed to the characters. If anything, some of them may actually be too short.

This is most evident in the first short, ‘The Lake’. The story is about a schoolteacher named Abbie (Lesley-Ann Brandt) who has moved to a house out by a lake. Based on conversations she has with a friend, it is clear that Abbie has made this decision out of the blue. It is also clear something traumatic has happened to her. Abbie mentions she has to “repair” herself while her friend tells her she is not broken.

What initially seems to be about a bad – or even worse, abusive – relationship, takes a strange turn. It is hinted that Abbie may have acted inappropriately with students. Things become even more worrisome when she hires Derek (Nathaniel Logan McIntyre) a student from her class to help around the house. The mystery will draw audiences in before the story suddenly ends with no resolution regarding Abbie’s past. ‘The Lake’ is a fine horror story, but it is hard to not be disappointed by the ending.

Thankfully, this is not a pervasive issue in Horror Noire. Many of the endings are incredibly powerful and underscore the message of the story. ‘Bride Before You’ and ‘Daddy’ are the two best examples with both leaving strong impressions on the audience. Black voices have been an important part of the genre for a long time. Unfortunately, they have been underserved and underappreciated. Horror Noire provides six strong scary stories that deal with important topics. Just as importantly, the movie is terrifying.

Horror Noire premieres on Shudder October 28

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