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SYFY WIRE New York Comic Con 2021

NYCC: 'Welcome to the Blumhouse' filmmakers on why socially relevant horror is so hot right now

By Josh Weiss
Welcome To The Blumhouse Still

The latest crop of filmmakers behind the second annual edition of Welcome to the Blumhouse stopped by New York Comic Thursday to offer up their thoughts on why horror is the perfect conduit through which to channel socially relevant themes. 

"I think horror is accessible ... and we need to mix entertainment with saying something," said Ryan Zaragoza, director of Madres (a 1970s-set tale about a young couple that uncovers a horrifying secret while expecting their first child). "I think horror is a great place to be talking about subjects right now."

"Horror allows us as filmmakers to invite all kinds of audiences to still be able to see the same message," added Gigi Saul Guerrero, director of Bingo Hell (the story of a local bingo hall that comes under the control of an ominous presence).

"But you'll have the squirmers, you'll have people closing their eyes, you'll have people laughing ... you'll have the crazy people — like all us in this room — cheering for all the gore," she continued. "It's an inviting genre. You can have all kinds of reactions, but you're also able to stretch out all these very important topics and subject matters. You can stretch them and mold them into all these wonderful things like creatures and mythology [and] gore ... Social horror has been around forever; we just now are giving it its own sub-genre."

Madres will arrive on Amazon Prime Video tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 8) alongside The Manor. Axelle Carolyn wrote and directed the latter film, which stars Barbara Hershey as Judith Albright, a woman convinced that a sinister force is preying on the residents of the assisted living facility in which she's been forced to live after suffering a mild stroke.

Nicholas Alexander plays her skeptical grandson, Josh. Appearing from inside her car on the set of American Horror Story, Carolyn explained that The Manor stemmed from her personal fear of aging.

"I saw my granddad go to a nursing home [and] I saw my dad go to a nursing home. And then going there and seeing the reality of what those places are like ... really made a big impression on me," she said. "This one time I was visiting my granddad and he pointed at the door behind me and he said, 'There's someone there.' I looked back and there was no one there. I automatically thought, 'He's starting to lose it.' He was convinced ... and the idea that he saw or thought he was seeing something that I couldn't see and then my automatic reaction to dismiss what he was saying really made me think."

Having Blumhouse support our ideas and representing Maritte Lee Go, director of Black as Night (a vampiric coming-of-age story told from the perspective of a young Black woman), also drew from her personal experiences. 

"So many issues that [the main character] is going through I felt myself. As a Fillipino, colorism is a really real thing ... It's better if you look more white. The browner you are means you worked in the fields; it means that you are less than, that you are the servants. And so, I really, really related to Asjha [Cooper], who plays the lead character in the movie. I felt like I was her. I always felt like, 'Oh, I should hide my skin from the sun because it's ugly to be dark.' To have Blumhouse and Amazon's giant mega-power saying, 'You know what? Your point-of-view, your life is validating. We hear your voice and we understand.' That is a fiction that society has created and darker is beautiful. Whatever your skin is, it's beautiful. Embrace it, embrace your individuality and that's really what I took into the movie."

Bingo Hell and Black as Night are now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of New York Comic Con 2021