“Can I Be Mean For A Second?”: 10 Rightfully Angry Black Women In Horror
My name is Sharai, and I deserve to see more angry Black women in my media. I don’t mean careless portrayals where stereotypes and poor ideas of feminism are leveraged against us. I am talking about Black women who revel in revenge and blood lust. Ladies who have realized that playing nice will never get them respect. I love this topic because I personally am motivated by spite and the need to be anywhere that I am not invited. This is why I love to see Black women overcome the internalized fear of having feelings in this society. I’m obsessed with the horror baddies who make people acknowledge their rage.
The world is hellbent on making us feel bad whenever we remind people that we’re human beings. We are taught how to navigate everyone else’s emotions and adapt before we can even read. Everyone else can cry, yell, and even throw tantrums. However, we are not afforded that luxury and are expected to put ourselves last and suffer in silence. There seems to be a blatant refusal to acknowledge that we should be able to exhibit the full range of emotions all other humans do. This leads to constant tone policing, being told we are too much if we have a different opinion, and being perceived as aggressive if we raise a minor concern.
This is why I wanted to celebrate 10 Black women in horror who got mad. Not only did these ladies cause mayhem on screen, but they did something many of us still hesitate to do: be mean and, in most cases, get even.
Diana “Sugar” Hill, Sugar Hill (1974)
Played by Marki Bey
A woman uses voodoo to get revenge on the people who murdered her fiancé. Diana’s rage transforms her into a superhero in a stunning jumpsuit. She doesn’t just get even with these racist thugs and gangsters, but she also makes time to deal with their girlfriends who try her. She is a threat with or without her zombie army. Unlike DC’s supposed superheroes, Diana is ready and willing to throw hands even without a costume if people want to fuck around and find out. She is a Black woman who will not be disrespected or interrupted. For all these reasons and many more, she is an icon and one of the best characters of the Blaxploitation era.
Adelaide “Addy” Wilson and Red, Us (2019)
Played by Lupita Nyong’o
Where You Can Watch: Prime Video
Doppelgängers disrupt a family’s beach vacation. Lupita Nyong’o is not just playing one woman who belongs on this list. She plays two! We all typically focus on Red’s rage for being sent to a hellish life underground and can understand her need for revenge. Meanwhile, Addy was once the angry young girl who put her there. Now she’s the adult who feels no remorse about how she claimed this life she’s living. Most of us can sympathize with the frustration of struggling in the shadows as people with privilege seem to be in the fast lane. However, Adelaide’s actions are what triggered Red’s justifiable fury. I don’t need to get in my head about who is in the right because I live every time I watch them fight. It’s an angry Black girl grudge match to the death.
Katrina, Vamp (1986)
Played by Grace Jones
College kids have a run-in with a vampire while trying to pick up an adult entertainer. Katrina is not on a noble quest for revenge. She’s just an artist tired of being failed by the people around her. She’s also a badass bitch who feasts on the blood of men. I love this because aside from being a murderous girl boss, Katrina never uses words to communicate how she feels. She instead forces her henchmen to walk on tiptoes around her as she delightfully rips their hearts out when they don’t follow her rules. This reversal of power dynamics is unheard of in this anti-Black patriarchy and is a sight to behold. Grace Jones has given so much to culture. However, this iconic turn as the silent but deadly Katrina is arguably her most memorable role.
Brianna Cartwright, Candyman (2021)
Played by Teyonah Parris
Where You Can Watch: Prime Video
An artist living in a gentrified Chicago neighborhood begins to explore an urban legend without realizing how many ways he is connected to the story. The Candyman universe has never been good to Black women. So, Nia DaCosta’s version made damn sure to put us into the conversation. One of the things I love about Brianna is she does what many women on screen fail to do when their partners get weird. She leaves until she realizes something supernatural is afoot and tries to save him. Black women removing themselves from situations that no longer serve them should be a larger conversation in all media. However, the main reason I love this character is because she looked around and quickly turned the rules against the real villains of the movie. She wields the legend of Candyman like a weapon to free herself, avenge her recently murdered boyfriend, and get rid of a bunch of bad cops in one fell swoop. What a way to get Black women out of the sidelines of this franchise.
Claudia, Interview With A Vampire (2022)
Played by Bailey Bass
An immortal tells his long and bloody life story to a journalist. I always fell asleep on the movie adaptation of this Anne Rice tale. So, I had very low expectations for this series. I was shocked that it turned out so good and then surprised when we met this version of Claudia. Making Claudia Black gives this character so much more texture. Being sired by a manipulative abuser as a prop to trap his lover is bad enough. Then she realizes she’s stuck in the body of a child for eternity and is then made to feel like her maker’s property, and she snaps. Claudia was my favorite angry black woman on TV in 2022. Watching her free herself and her friend before using the blood of her enemy to pen a few pages in her journal is a mood. I’m sad Bailey Bass did not return for a second season, and I hope the character keeps the same energy.
Eve, Eve’s Bayou (1997)
Played by Jurnee Smollett
A child is forced to grow up far too soon one summer when she discovers that her adulterous father has done something unforgivable to her sister. Eve is relatable because, like most Black girls, she is thrown into the adult end of the pool without a life preserver. However, she also learns to swim, as many of us do. She’s still figuring out the bigger picture but is mature enough to know that some things are unforgivable. Eve inadvertently sets in motion her dad’s demise before she even attempts to use magic to rid their home of him. I love this because anyone who understands revenge knows you need a backup plan. Watching a young Black girl feel all her rage and use it to protect her family is part of why this Southern Gothic tale hits so many of us in the feelings.
Cecilia/Sissy, Sissy (2022)
Played by Aisha Dee
Former best friends try to reconnect at bachelorette weekend at a remote cabin. Cecilia might not have set out to get even with the people who wronged her in her youth. However, when opportunity knocked, she did answer. Sissy soon finds catharsis in killing the people who are still talking shit about her. She elevates the revenge game by blaming her childhood bully and current pain in the ass for the murderous weekend as she gains more followers. This is the ultimate good for her movie because how many Black girls get bullied and then are made to feel like the problem when they finally stick up for themselves? This unplanned quest for vengeance proves that it really is a dish best served cold for those who can wait.
Sue Ann, Ma (2019)
Played by Octavia Spencer
Where You Can Watch: VOD
A woman forms a relationship with a group of teens as part of a scheme to take revenge on their parents. None of the problems with this movie are Octavia’s fault. If anything, her performance is one of the few things it has going for it. We see the motherly older Black woman stereotype turned on its head as Ma begins to pick these parents off one by one. I love the idea of an angry Black woman using how society views her to hide her murder habit in plain sight. This movie could have been a moment because if we cannot get away from these tired Black archetypes, we should be able to have fun with them.
Eloise, Spell (2020)
Played by Loretta Devine
Where You Can Watch: Pluto TV
An older woman keeps a man in her attic as she gears up for a sinister ritual. Because we live in a broken society, Loretta Devine has made a career out of playing unsuspecting motherly figures. So, watching her be the problem for once added ten years to my life expectancy. I call this movie Black Misery because this is sadly as close to a role, like Annie Wilkes, that we may ever see a Black woman get. I also celebrate this messy movie for letting this woman cause havoc while being over the age of thirty. Her anger is usually the calmer and more judgemental variety. However, anyone with a grandma knew this man was in danger. I hope this is not the last time we watch her punish someone who refuses to listen before feeding them parts of their family.
Emma, The Reading (2023)
Played by Mo’Nique
Where You Can Watch: BET+
To promote the book she wrote about losing her family during a deadly home invasion, a woman agrees to have a reading in the house, not knowing all hell will break loose. The Reading is a bit of a mess, but Mo’Nique’s performance makes it worth it. We see a Black woman fully embrace her moment as a villain as she torments a house of strangers. This character goes beyond a regular angry Black woman as she is also pro-fuck them kids. Emma will kill anyone blocking her path to money and a chance at the spotlight. This role is delightful, over the top, and decadently evil. I wish more Black women were allowed to play characters so off the rails. Mo’Nique has fun, but there is also something to be said about her monologue about why she did what she did. While she went a bit overboard, I celebrate her tossing out the hand she was dealt and learning to live out loud.
Did your favorite angry Black women make it onto this list? If not, let us keep the conversation going on Twitter. You can find me @misssharai.