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Horror Noire | Lesley-Ann Brandt & Nathaniel Logan McIntyre On The Importance Of Black Horror [Exclusive Interview]

Horror Noire debuted this week on Shutter. This is an anthology feature that is a follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2019 documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. It features six stories of Black horror from Black directors and screenwriters. Every one of them is a standalone feature that is done in a very distinct artistic way. With each story comes a different talking point. You can check out the trailer below!

Here is the synopsis for Horror Noire

Six stories, one film. Experience the next chapter of Black horror. Starring Lesley-Ann Brandt (Lucifer, Spartacus), Luke James (The Chi, Thoughts of a Colored Man), Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse, A Black Lady Sketch Show), Brandon Mychal Smith (Four Weddings and a Funeral, You’re the Worst), Sean Patrick Thomas (Macbeth, The Curse of La Llorona), Peter Stormare (American Gods, Fargo,) Malcolm Barrett (Genius: Aretha Franklin, Timeless) and Rachel True (The Craft, Half & Half), among others. With new and adapted stories by Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, Victor LaValle, Shernold Edwards, Al Letson, and Ezra C. Daniels.

With the release of Horror Noire this week, LRM Online’s Emmanuel Gomez spoke with Lesley-Ann Brandt and Nataniel Logan McIntyre. They are the lead actors in The Lake. The first story that we see in the film. In our conversation, they tell us about the importance of a feature film like this. Then we go into each of their characters in The Lake. You can check it out below!

Horror Noire is now available on Shutter as well with the AMC+ bundle. It will air on AMC at a later date.

Horror Noire

Emmanuel Gomez: Lesley, big fan of the project that you just wrapped up. Congratulations on finishing Lucifer. Being a fan for a long time, phenomenal. Now we’re here to talk about something that’s also really cool: Shutter’s Horror Noire. This is kind of a follow-up to the documentary that they did in 2019, which really took a look at the history of black horror. Tell me a little bit about this project and what it feels individually to be part of it.

Lesley-Ann Brandt: I think we’re seeing such a shift and I hope it continues where minority voices, black voices, brown voices. As we see with Squid Games international voices are being uplifted, being celebrated. I think Horror Noire is just a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase the talent that is there. We have veteran talent, new talent. It’s a show that has predominantly black people working above and below the line. I was happy to be a part of my first kind of horror project that had such deep things. Exploring really deep things that I think America really needs to continue to explore.

Emmanuel Gomez: Nathaniel, what about for you?

Nathaniel Logan McIntyre: I mean, Ms. Lesley-Ann basically said it all. Unfortunately in the past, there hasn’t been as much black horror out there. So I feel like Horror Noire is stepping up to the plate and is showcasing the black talent of the writers, directors, and cast. I’m super excited to be a part of that, to be a part of this kind of journey. Because from here, I feel like it’s only going to grow. There’s going to be more and more black films out there, more black horror films out there. So, to be able to be a part of the starting of that is an honor to me, I’m blessed.

Emmanuel Gomez: Lesley, you said it correctly. We’re really living in a changing time where we have writers and directors like Jordan Peele, Nia DaCosta, who come together and start telling these stories that are very relatable. I am a Latino, so a lot of times some of those themes are also very, very relatable. Unlike some of the stories that we got used to growing up with. The Screams, the Freddy’s, the Jason that predominantly didn’t feature any of us, regardless.

Lesley-Ann Brandt: Totally, and I think that’s the gift of horror. Much like a show like Lucifer, where you get to explore things that are to an audience of a lighter hue, more palatable if that makes sense. If we’re making a comment on racism, right, it feels less in your face when it’s told through this genre of horror or supernatural. I think that’s the gift of the genre, is that you get to do that, right, and hopefully make people think.

If they can relate to a supernatural character or some horror character, maybe they can take a pose and go, “Oh, oh, I could apply this to my own life, or my own point of view, or my own perspectives, or beliefs”, etc. We did that a lot with Lucifer. I grew up watching the Screams and the Nightmare on Elm Streets. But I never saw anyone really that looked like me much in the same way. So, it was really wonderful to be a part of a show that celebrated black talent. Hats off to Shutter and AMC for giving black talent this opportunity and the platform to do so.

Emmanuel Gomez: It’s one thing to do a documentary about it to show the light, but it’s another now to put your money where your mouth is. Then, continue to expand on that with things like this. So, let’s talk a little bit about The Lake. It kicks off this entire feature of the anthology series of six films. Tell me a little bit about Abby first.

Lesley -Ann Brandt: Abby is twisted. Abby’s got some problems. She is a complicated, layered woman. I think the thing that struck me the most about her, the questions that I had was like, “why would she do this?.” We are as women naturally, or supposed to be naturally maternal and protective, right? So, what is that beast in her basement that the lake speaks to? What is that internal struggle for her, to fight that until she eventually can’t fight it anymore? Maybe becomes the thing that she most dreads, and does she herself have a previous history, or a previous wound, or previous trauma where she then perpetuates the same thing?

I mean, these were all things that I was thinking about because I am a mother, I have a son. It’s kind of like a worst-case scenario for me. At the same time I had to not judge her, and I had to like to be open to exploring what those things were, in a very limited time because it’s not like we’re getting a full 45-minute episode just dedicated to the story. It’s a little vignette, right. A little glimpse into these characters. So, challenging but creatively really fulfilling as well.

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Emmanuel Gomez: I think one of the creative decisions that I enjoyed is not to disclose what her past was. What were the things that she’s really running from? Then, my mind obviously wouldn’t click and sit and try to stereotype something, “oh, this is why she’s being that way”.

Lesley -Ann Brandt: Exactly. Exactly. I think it’s interesting because I’ve read where people were like, “oh, I wish they would’ve included more of that”. We meet people like Abby all the time, we meet people with demons all the time in our life. You don’t get the full chapter, you get maybe the cliff notes of their life, right? Then you make a judgment on that person.

Emmanuel Gomez: Right.

Lesley -Ann Brandt: That’s what I didn’t want for her, and I don’t think the writers did either.

Emmanuel Gomez: It just sparks really good conversation as well, maybe she was this, or maybe she’s that.

Lesley -Ann Brandt: Exactly.

Emmanuel Gomez: You don’t know.

Lesley -Ann Brandt: We’re doing our job if you’re continuing the conversation at the water cooler. Like at work or with your partner at home or your friends or whatever. If you continue to think about these ideas or things, I think much in the same way, as Watchman did with the Tulsa Riots. That just that little bit at the beginning of their pilot, everyone was like, “oh my God, black wall street existed”. You’re like, yeah. You’re discovering this history right now through a show with supernatural villains. They did their job in the first five minutes of that pilot.

Emmanuel Gomez: Nathaniel, let’s talk about Derek. Tell me a little bit about Derek.

Nathaniel Logan McIntyre: To me, I just feel like he’s just that average school athlete. He’s got a relationship. He’s the cool guy around school, the chill guy. Just an average teenage boy, to be honest. He finds himself, not intentionally, but he just finds himself in the mix of things with his teacher. It can be quite awkward for him, his outlook on life is kind of based on some of the things that he said. He’s just a chill, take-it day-by-day kind of guy, in my opinion. When this whole thing comes up, this is new for him. You’ll see how he takes it, how the teacher comes on him as she did, how he takes it. If he’s going to go one way, or the other, but you’ll see that battle as well.

Emmanuel Gomez: Here’s what I found tragic about Derek, is that he did nothing wrong other than to trust somebody that he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Nathaniel Logan McIntyre: Exactly.

Emmanuel Gomez: A figure in his life, a teacher. It’s like, can you even fault him at all?

Nathaniel Logan McIntyre:  He’s legit just a normal, average kid for real. It’s unfair to him that he got looped into this whole mess because of his teacher and her problems, and things like that. It’s not too much to even really be able to say about Derek, you know what I’m saying?

Emmanuel Gomez: It does speak a louder message though. About some of the youth that they’re not doing anything wrong. Sometimes it’s the system around them that just fails them when they’re supposed to feel secure.

Lesley -Ann Brandt: I think you highlighted something really important there. You are supposed to be able to trust a teacher. You’re supposed to be able to trust a parent, or grandparent, or coach, doctor, you could put these characters into different jobs. These are real-life issues that exist. These are real scenarios that are happening, and what a failure to these kids, and to people when these trusted figures are not held accountable for their actions but where they’re encouraged or it’s perpetuated, it’s repeated. It’s allowed to happen and exist, very big things for sure.

Emmanuel Gomez: Such a big conversation in such a small space of time.

Lesley -Ann Brandt: Yeah, that’s the thing, you get a little snippet, and then we cut. Then, I don’t know what the next one is afterward, but then you’re off to another.

Emmanuel Gomez: Overall, just a great job, you two and the rest of the cast members with the stories. I found something great in all of them. Lesley, Nathaniel, thank you so much for your time and the insight on the opening story that we see, The Lake. So, thank you so much, I appreciate it. It was nice to virtually meet both of you.

Nathaniel Logan McIntyre Awesome.

Lesley -Ann Brandt: Thank you so much, have a great day.

Emmanuel Gomez: Thanks, you too. Take care guys.

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