Historically, horror movies have not been a particularly friendly genre for people of colour. Over the years, we’ve seen BIPOC culture relegated to spooky backgrounds (e.g., ancient cursed burial grounds, haunted tombs) and people of colour serving as plot devices to advance the narrative of white characters—often getting killed in the process.
But recently, we’ve seen some truly fantastic horror films break that mold. And few studios have brought more diversity to the screen recently than Blumhouse.
Just in time for Halloween comes a new psychological thriller, Evil Eye. Produced by Blumhouse is a story of a South Asian family being tested by a daughter’s mysterious new boyfriend and a mother’s dark past. Adapted from an Audible Original by Madhuri Shekar, the film was created by Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani and produced by Priyanka Chopra and Jason Blum. Evil Eye not only puts South Asian stories front and centre, but also features a cast of outstanding South Asian actors.
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“Our stories have always been there; there was just a spotlight needed,” says Sarita Choudhury, who plays the Usha, the mother in Evil Eye. “Thankfully Blumhouse, which did Get Out, is interested in sharing stories that – though from other cultures – are just human stories of interest.”
“We didn’t over-explain or try to make people understand the South Asian culture [in Evil Eye]. We just told a story. And in it my character, though she heavily relies on the evil eye or her altar/other symbols, begins to break down and re-interpret her own past and beliefs as the film goes on.”Sarita Choudhury
How Evil Eye showcases South Asian culture
The result is a unique story that incorporates unique aspects of South Asian culture. It also pairs it with universal struggles in relationships between families and children, their expectations, and traditions vs modernity.
“Family is everything in this film,” says Choudhury in an email interview with Cold Tea Collective. “The expected behavior, the rules, the traditions – and then that itself is turned on its head. What happens if a secret of a family member’s past comes out? How do family members relate to each other after the truth comes out? Especially in the South Asian culture – where for us, family is everything and also everything we rebel against.”
As one would expect, the film is more a psychological thriller than a horror movie with jump scares. But it’s one that makes you reexamine your own relationships with your parents and wonder what events in their personal history have shaped the people they are today.
Evil Eye will debut on Amazon on October 13. But the response has already been tremendous, with the trailer flooded with comments by fans who are ecstatic to see this kind of representation in a horror film—both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
Welcome to Blumhouse
It is a part of Welcome to the Blumhouse, a series of horror films that will showcase diverse filmmakers. With Welcome to the Blumhouse the studio will have an opportunity to showcase the perspectives of people of colour and demonstrate why audiences deserve to see these stories told.
“The more we get specific about a story from our culture the more it can be universally understood,” says Choudhury. “The audience is smart.”
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