This June Hollywood’s tomb of old ideas will creak open yet again and present the tale of an ancient Egyptian tomb disturbed by a bumbling archaeologist and/or action-adventure hero, who inadvertently and unwittingly unleashes a curse.
Wes Craven had a gift for reading the room. He was always in touch with where society was and made his movies accordingly. A Nightmare on Elm Street perfectly married the rise of the 70’s slasher to the bombast of the 80’s. New Nightmare was a bellwether for the ironic self-awareness of the late 90’s upon which Scream then fully capitalized. But looking back, arguably Craven’s most reflective and socially relevant work was The People Under the Stairs.
The Craft (1996) is a film that came out around the time I turned 13. A freshman in high school and firmly established as a minority within a minority in my predominantly white/European immigrant working-class suburb right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a painful observation. I was constantly confronting micro-aggressions about what kind of Black person I was supposed to be, and wasn’t, from all of my peers. I was the weirdo. And I found myself socializing with other weirdo’s who were the pop culture nerds, especially those who liked genre films and TV (The X-Files and Buffy The Vampire Slayer consumed my life for many years) as much as I did.
“‘Are you OK?’ is going to be on my tombstone, with an etching of me looking concerned,” Rachel True tells me with bone-dry sarcasm. She’s elaborating on her point in director Xavier Burgin’s buzzy new documentary, Horror Noire, in which she states that black actresses in horror films like herself often play characters whose only job is to make sure the white female lead is OK. Tropes like this, and the one about black people being the first to die in the genre, are exactly what the insightful new film confronts as it reflects on the last several decades of horror and its portrayals of blackness.
[Over] the weekend, actress Rachel True brought up in a Tweet (which turned into a quite informative thread) that conventions were booking her fellow The Craft costars Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, and Neve Campbell, but leaving her out.