The Best Black Horror Films of the 21st Century  [Video]

His House Black Horror

While classics like Candyman and Ganja & Hess have been well revered for decades, modern representations of Black people in horror seem to be talked about less than their predecessors. Despite a call for more Black-led horror films, when these films are released, oftentimes they go unnoticed. Perhaps it’s terrible marketing on the distribution companies’ part, or maybe it’s because oftentimes, audiences are expecting another Get Out. There are titans like Jordan Peele, of course, but what films outside of his deserve to be championed, and how will this subgenre move past the regurgitation of cheap copies of his directorial debut?

There have undoubtedly been at least 10 films released in the last few years that have been deemed spiritual successors to Peele’s work, and the same can be said for Black horror films from the 1970s to the 1990s. To shine a light on Black horror films that critics and audiences have forgotten—or ignored—I’m here with a list of the 15 best modern Black horror films. While a Peele film will indeed appear (I couldn’t help myself), this list will otherwise focus on films that have gone unseen in an attempt to shine a light on movies that deserve more respect. So, without further ado, here are 15 films that people can enjoy throughout Black History Month and beyond. 

His House

This twist on the haunted house genre focuses on Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), a Sudanese refugee couple who flee Sudan with their young daughter, who tragically does not survive the trip. When they relocate to a run-down London apartment in an English suburb, their presence is unsurprisingly not welcomed. On top of their contentious relationship with their neighbors, the couple begins to experience strange occurrences, and their new home may have some secrets of its own. Remi Weekes’ directorial debut unravels into a meditation on belonging and the refugee experience, using scares to further tether Bol and Rial to their past.

In Fabric

It’s rare for a horror film to be set against the backdrop of a department store, but if anyone can do it, it’s Peter Strickland. The film follows Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a recently divorced woman trying to get back into her groove. In anticipation of a date, she goes to a department store and is drawn to a red dress, which slowly begins to change her life. There’s a touch of Giallo to the film, reminiscent of the neon-soaked Argento flicks of the 1970s, with aesthetics of the 1980s fusing together to create a fully immersive watch. While Jean-Baptiste may not be present in the film’s second half, there is no doubt that her performance continues to haunt the film. Almost like the red dress that leads to her demise, her presence is bewitching. 

Saw IV

As Jigsaw and his apprentices attempt to take down every member of Eric Matthews’ (Donnie Wahlberg) SWAT team, it’s finally Officer Rigg’s (Lyriq Bent) turn to become an active participant. While he’s present in the background in both Saw II and Saw III, the franchise’s fourth installment allows him to not only become a fully realized character, but one of the franchise’s best. Bent is a fantastic addition to the main cast, which makes the fact that Rigg doesn’t become a Jigsaw apprentice in the end all the more unfortunate. The character battles with his morality throughout the film, and it would have been an interesting twist to have someone on Jigsaw’s team who isn’t completely morally inept (R.I.P Amanda). Saw IV is undoubtedly one of the most underrated films in the franchise, and the film and its protagonist deserve more respect. 

Attack the Block

Following a teenage street gang as their inner city apartment complex is attacked by a horde of alien creatures, Attack the Block remains one of the best sci-fi horror films of the 2010s. The film expertly balances comedy with sci-fi horror elements, crafting a unique film that still withstands the test of time. Each and every member of the central friend group feels wholly authentic and lived in, making this feel like a sci-fi spiritual successor to the hit 1985 film Goonies. On top of that, the film is also the backdrop for John Boyega’s first leading role, and he turns in a performance that guarantees he was meant to be a leading man. 

It Comes at Night

Like many A24 horror films, It Comes at Night isn’t concerned with exploring the end of the world on the same scale as its peers. Instead, it’s invested in the people who find themselves at the edge of the world, trying to live a normal life amongst a population that has succumbed to an infectious disease. As it stands now, this may perhaps be one of the most overrated films of the last decade, although it seems to have been one of the first additions to the “elevated” horror genre.

There’s nothing pretentious about this film though, and it feels like director Trey Edward Shults truly gets to the heart of humanity here. Although it hasn’t continued to jive with audiences, the film is a fantastic portrayal of fear and grief and how the two can destroy us. Even if you’re not a fan, a film that gave us one of the best breakout performances of the 2010s—thank you Kelvin Harrison Jr.—deserves some celebration in my opinion. 


On the eve of D-Day, some American paratroopers fall behind enemy lines. But, after reaching their target, it appears that in addition to fighting the Nazi troops that patrol the village, they also must fight against something more sinister. The film works as a great zombie flick, using the backdrop of WWII to breathe some life into a genre that in 2018, seemed to be running out of steam. The film features Wyatt Russel and John Magaro, who no matter how swoon-worthy, are no match for Jovan Adepo, the film’s leading man. Adepo has a face that you can’t help but look away from whenever he is on screen, and he brings a sincerity to the role that is almost uncommon in films of its kind.  


Jordan Peele undoubtedly struck gold with his 2017 directorial debut Get Out, but his third film is arguably his best. The film follows OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer), a brother and sister duo who are working to keep their family business afloat after their father’s untimely—and mysterious—death. It becomes clear that the ranch they live on is not home to only the siblings, as an extraterrestrial being begins to wreak havoc on the surrounding desert. Peele’s third film is a spectacular look at exploitation and spectacle, blending science fiction and horror to perfectly capture what blockbusters have been missing in the last few years. It’s all held together by career-defining performances from Kaluuya and Palmer, who play their separate characters with unwavering charisma and heart. 

Escape Room

What better way to capitalize on the popularity of real-life escape rooms than to make a budget-friendly film about them? This Saw-lite film—and its equally underrated sequel—is one of the best thrillers in recent memory. It seems rare nowadays to get a horror film filled to the brim with likable and equally unlikeable characters, whose morals are put to the test as they backstab each other.

At the helm of the film is Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell), a kindhearted and smart young woman who works as a narrative foil to Jason Walker (Jay Ellis), who serves as the group’s brawn. The two of them are able to shine as both the film’s hero and its villain, against the backdrop of an ever-changing Rubik’s cube of an apartment building. The film’s setting changes according to how members of the group interact with it, making for a tense, at times silly, and immersive watch. 

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror

The only documentary on this list, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror pays a long overdue homage to the stars and filmmakers that made Black horror what it is today. Over its tight 83-minute runtime, the film dives deep into the exploitation of Black actors, explaining the ways that horror portrayed black people in a negative light but also how the genre was more welcoming of diversity than others. It unearths the untold and complicated Black history of the biggest genre in Hollywood and features interviews with Scream Kings and Queens (including Keith David, Tony Todd, and Rachel True) to unfurl these complexities. The documentary is an essential watch for anyone who considers a horror buff, and the only downside is that it should be about 3 times longer.


It’s quite easy to forget you’re watching a horror movie when viewing Nikyatu Jusu’s feature debut Nanny. The film’s visuals are methodical to the point that it feels like you’re in the presence of something otherworldly. That is, until Jusu abandons the languid pace and forces you to confront the horrors that the film’s main character Aisha (Anna Diop) is forced to reckon with. The film follows her from Senegal to New York as she searches for a better life for herself and her son whom she left back home. She begins to work for a wealthy white couple with a child who appears to be the same age as her son. What follows is a fantastical and harrowing portrayal of a woman forced to her breaking point, with Jusu’s vision as a filmmaker creating a viewing experience you won’t soon forget. 


One part Single White Female and one part Halloween, this 2019 cult classic was destined to succeed even before the film’s premiere. The titular character befriends a group of teenagers to help her live the life she’s always wanted, letting them drink and party in her basement…As long as she can join them. But, as time goes on, it becomes apparent that Ma isn’t who she seems, and there may be a sinister reason for her unsettling kindness. Octavia Spencer’s performance overpowers many of Ma‘s flaws and makes for a delightful watch even five years after its release. Spencer and director Tate Taylor (who she previously worked with in The Help) were looking to do something different, and that they did. The film still exists in the ever-changing cultural zeitgeist, preceding the likes of M3GAN with its campy goodness. 

Bones and All

If no one else is brave enough to say it, I will: Luca Guadagnino is a better horror director than most of his peers. Known for his languid dramas, the director’s first horror film—the 2018 reimagining of Suspiria—is spectacular, but it’s his second one that truly showcases Guadagnino’s talent for the genre. Bones and All takes a middling YA novel and completely transforms it into a cross-country tale about race, sexuality, and belonging.

The film’s protagonist Maren (Taylor Russel) exists as a mirror for every Black person who grew up in a rural space and the isolation that comes along with that. There’s a longing for belonging, and a longing to get out, but also a desire to stay amongst the open plains for the rest of your life, because it’s all you know. Bones and All is one of the best coming-of-age films in recent years, and its horror aspects aid in its melodic aesthetic. 

The Purge: Anarchy

Perhaps one of the best examples of a sequel outselling its predecessor, The Purge: Anarchy is the film that showcased this franchise’s true potential. Abandoning the single location setting of the first film, this second installment moves from block to block, adding different heroes and villains to the mix throughout the film’s runtime. The film’s rag-tag group of outcasts is led by Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo), a mother who is willing to do anything to keep her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) safe, no matter the cost. The film wastes no time on exposition and jumps right into the action, its main plot quickly unraveling into three thrilling storylines. One of the most memorable aspects of the film is a revolutionary monologue delivered by the late Michael K. Williams, whose presence in any film was as hypnotic as it was powerful.  

The Girl With All the Gifts

Based on the novel of the same name by M. R. Carey, this underseen gem is a deconstruction of the zombie genre. The film focuses on Melanie (Sennia Nanua) a young Black girl who the military believes holds the key to ending this nation-spanning epidemic once and for all. The only catch is, Melanie isn’t an ordinary girl. Instead, she’s a sentient spawn of zombies herself, capable of restricting her cannibal urges. Nearly a decade later, the film is still an interesting look at this idea of feral girlhood which has not only gotten extremely popular in the last few years, but is often relegated to only white girls and women. It’s one of the best of its genre, focusing on humanity’s desperation when faced with their rapidly crumbling future. 


Released in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kindred was once described as “Rosemary’s Baby meets Get Out.” While this is a good descriptor, the film is more than just a hollow recapitulation of its influences. The film follows Charlotte (Tamara Lawrance), a mother-to-be, as well as a recent widow who after her husband’s death, finds herself in the care of his mother and stepbrother. While the two seem nice at first, their masks slowly slip off and Charlotte is forced to figure out when and how she will escape. The film’s portrayal of motherhood is sure to make anyone confront the notion of bringing life into this world, and what being responsible for another human being truly means. Backed by a powerhouse performance from Lawrence and haunting visuals, Kindred is one of the best unseen horror films of the 2020s. 



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