On Christmas day, Jordan Peele released the trailer for Us, a post-Get Out horror film that drove the internet into creating memes, gifs, and opinion pieces crushed into Twitter’s 280-word limit. More than that, the trailer release is brilliant marketing in a time where families and friends are together and sequestered away from the maddening horrors that has largely shaped 2018, only to be plunged back into a nightmarish world where Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke are fighting off their evil doppelgangers in a home invasion.
Most strikingly, Peele centers a black family – their fear, anger, shock, dismay and every miniscule of expression distilled through a lucid black lens. It’s unnerving, and also feverishly exciting. To further demonstrate Peele’s commitment towards combining black bodies and horror, he will helm the remake of the 1992 slasher film Candyman, originally directed by Bernard Rose and featured a black horror villain. Candyman remains significant and canonical till date because villains in horror movies are usually white and male. And, if successful when released in 2020, will cement Peele as a vanguard in subverting horror. Us hits cinemas March next year, and it’s quite difficult not to think of the movie as aping the heavy, racial subtext of Get Out. Peele has said it isn’t. As such, I’m more excited for the movie because I can’t deal with theorising that the doppelgangers are a product of a white conspiracy.
That said, I saw a few tweets from Nollywood filmmakers in response to the trailer, acknowledging the brilliance of Peele’s latest work. But that’s the surface. Peele’s Hollywood footprint began from comedy and his transition into horror writing and directing is no accident. Horror and comedy are two sides of the same coin, plumbing the depths of extreme and opposing human emotions that filmmakers have successfully cross-pollinated both genres into an harmonious blend. Currently, comedies are Nollywood’s cash cow, facilitated by cinema gatekeepers and their monopoly on local movie consumption. The Lionheart movie fiasco is still fresh, so there. While Hollywood’s production of horror movies have gone mainstream – Hereditary, A Quiet Place, The Nun were released this year, including Netflix’s Bird Box which has feverishly gripped social media – Nollywood has since suffocated its horror genre into obsolescence.
I have written about how horror movies heaved Nollywood into existence, an era of femme fatale cinema, witchcraft cinema, superstitions, ghosts, and blood rituals. Safe for the upcoming sequel of Living In Bondage helmed by first time director Ramsey Nouah, horror movies in Nollywood have never had a present nor a future, only a misty-eyed, nostalgic past. From the great morass of comedies released this year, Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys was a palate cleanser, a surprising smash with a sprinkling of horror and violence that I tweeted after seeing the movie that I would like for Adetiba to direct a horror movie. I can only hope. People are still tweeting about Bird Box, processing the trauma of the characters through memes and gifs and proving yet again that horror isn’t meant for a particular audience. You just have to see to believe.