We’ve seen it a dozen times. A childhood prank gone wrong, an ominous figure returns years later thirsty for revenge against the hormonal teens who wronged him years before. Its the bread and butter of most basic of slashers. I would say it’s a premise that has been done to death, but when I saw the trailer for the upcoming film Thriller I was renewed with a sense of excitement.
Thriller is the directorial debut of Dallas Jackson. It premiered September 23rd at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and will be seeing a wide release once it is picked up by distributors. This slasher is doing something different. It is not taking place in a middle class suburban neighborhood or a rural summer camp. It is taking place in Compton High School on the South Side of Los Angeles. Jackson describes himself as a life long horror fan, but lamented that he never really saw horror films with leading cast members that looked like he did, so he set out to make what he wished for. A Friday the 13th style slasher, but with people of a color.
The film is produced by Blumhouse and Divide/Conquer. Blumhoue recently brought us Jordan Peele’s Oscar award winning Get Out, and the The Purge: Election Year. Knowing that Black and Latino audiences are the largest consumers of horror in America, Blumhouse is eager to invest in film makers who wish to make more diverse films. Stories and representation are powerful, and I believe films like these will be leading the way for a new generation of film makers who will shape the future cinema.
Thriller stars Pepi Sonuga (Ash vs. Evil Dead), Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump, The Purge: Election Year), and RZA (Wu-Tang Clan, Man with the Iron Fist) In the trailer and we see the kind hearted young Chauncey (James Woods) being frightened by a group of masked kids, the prank ends in a little girl falling to her death. The bullies place the blame on Chauncey who is then sent to Juvenile Detention. Four years later he is released, and all the former bullies are now being picked off by a mysterious hoodie wearing killer just before the big school dance.
I began to get the feeling that Thriller will go to a deeper place than your usual teen slaughter fest. It pays homage to 1980’s Prom Night, and the title Thriller seems to be a subtle nod to Michael Jackson’s iconic horror music video. It’s even self aware of the genre tropes, one character claiming another sounds like a paranoid white girl in a horror movie.
Keep an eye out for Thriller. I believe this will be one slasher you wont want to miss.