Black Summer: Summertime Slash-ness
By Timothy Rush
I’m not sure if it’s the over use of summer camps or the lack of any school time antics, but summertime feels like slasher season. Let’s be honest no one wants to be running for their lives in the snow nor during the upswing of Black History month. So with that in mind the Season of the Slasher is upon us and I think it’s time we try to figure out what a wholly Afro Summer Slasher looks like. From possible locations, to possible killers, even down to possible survivors. Let’s take some time to imagine what a black slasher could be.
Heavyweights (1995) while not being a Horror film for most of you thin kids this childhood thriller always raised one big question for me. How rich were Kenan’s parents? I only ask because I truly never thought black people went to sleep away camps. With that idea being a foreign notion to me the Camp setting just doesn’t sit right with the Spirit of this Black Slasher. Leaving me to think of black exclusive summer settings like The Cookout. The Cookout being one of the most sacred of functions held in the summer is a perfect setting for a Summer Slasher. Being one of the few functions to take place outside and that can last all night, the cookout provides many opportunities for some excellent kills. Plus you actually have a believable reason for Black Folks to be out in nature. The next thing that comes to mind when I think of my “Black summer experience” is destination family reunions. Whether it be Atlanta, Orlando, or even New York I can still remember the long chartered bus rides with too many family members for my comfort. Then without fail once we get to our destination the weekend becomes a flurry of scheduled activities and multiple family meals allowing for multiple fun set pieces for familial slaughter.
May I just take a moment to reconcile the fact that my life is at a place where I have typed the words “ Familial Slaughter” at 10 AM on a Monday morning. Moving along, my final suggestion for our Soul Slasher setting (Sorry) is the classic Beach Party. Am I thinking of what I used to see on B.E.T during Freaknik as a child, Possibly. Might I also be calling to the wild days of Memorial Day weekend on South Beach? Yes, the answer is YES! For years the trope of the all white beach horror has existed and I think it’s time it’s done right. In the immortal words of King Kendrick “ I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop ,Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor.”
Now that we have some places for bodies to be hidden and discovered as a distraction, We need to talk about Killers. I guess not just killers but what kind of people usually become killers in a slasher film. Traditionally it seems to be either a bullied kid, or the parent of a bullied kid, or a kid harmed from lack of care, or the parent of a kid harmed from lack of care. (SOCIAL COMMENTARY?) I guess to break the chain slightly we could consider what type of people Kill the vibes within the spaces mentioned for our film. Not to start with the obvious but any unvetted, questionably invited or unannounced white person is getting all of the looks when sussing out a killer. Even before the bodies start piling up we need to know why are you here, who are you with, and why do you have a plate? No matter what the answers to those questions are, this character is not to be trusted until proven not guilty ( never innocent though!). Stepping away from the colonizer to a normal interloper, we have the ex that’s still cool with the family. They spent time as your cousin’s partner for a few years and even though they aren’t an item and haven’t been for some time now they still show up to functions and you never really know why.Their love died years ago, they are either here trying to win Auntie Dana’s heart or they are here for revenge. Moving ever closer within our last suspect is that one family member everyone knows to look out for. We all know that member of the family that can’t be left alone in your Grandmother’s House let alone the kids. (Yikes!) Sometimes it be like that though.
These are starting to look like very lived in and well thought out universes for our Slasher film. Which means many will survive and many will die, but who will steal everyone’s heart as the Favorite Survivor? All of the aforementioned backdrops for our summer slaughter-land are all made better by that one cousin that has the GAS. Without fail there is the one member of the family that will eventually ask you if you wanna “take a walk” with them. They are universally liked and are usually a great source of positivity and Magical Stoner Survivability. They always come out on top so defeating a Summer Psycho is no problem. Someone who can be a stark difference from that cousin is the Former Athlete in the family. Reaching as far back as to their high school glory days , college defeats, and even some semi-pro big shots they always remember when. They usually can turn anything into a competition and are the only people keeping score. Sometimes clunky and boring within the group dynamic, they offer us the chance to see someone do something physically amazing to defeat the enemy. I’m thinking Gymnastics Vs Raptor kinda awesomeness ( Hey Simone!). Last but definitely not least we have the Disgruntled Elder, This can be an uncle who is proverbially “Too old for this shit!”, Or an auntie who is “ So damn sick and tired” of all this mess. I know it seems like a weird choice but I feel like this is how we can make up for how wrong they did Alfre Woodard in Annabelle.
As the thud of the killer’s body is heard by our surviving party, we come to the end of our Summer Slasher. We screamed, we ran, we immediately were sus of that white guest. However you decide to mix and match them, these are just a few ideas to think about while making your plate at the cookout and wondering if you could get away with turning the function into your own blood stained wonderland. If you have any other ideas to add, or think that I missed something important out of this drop a comment below. And please if you find yourself reading this and you start to feel a bit uncomfortable just remember :
Former Artist, Current Deviant Timothy Rush. Twitter: @timmyvendetta | Insta:@vendetta234