“The Bleeding Edge: A New Generation of Horror” panel at SXSW started off with a loaded question from Stage13’s Two Sentence Horror Stories filmmaker Vera Miao: “How does your identity shape how you are as a horror filmmaker?” Genre mega-producer Jason Blum immediately answered in a joking tone, “That’s a racist question!” But the thing is, he’s kind of right.
Miao, a female and first-generation Asian American, gets asked the question all the time, so she decided to ask the question to the panel, which included Blum, Unfriended: Dark Web director Stephen Susco, and Leigh Whannell – who are all white men.
Get Out producer Blum expanded on his thoughts by sharing a conversation he had with his mom at the Oscars, when she asked him what director Jordan Peele thought of Black Panther. The crowd laughed at the subtle microaggression which can be likened to when Bradley Whitford’s character said: “I would have voted for Obama a third time if I could.”
“You can’t ask that!” he exclaimed.
Whannell, who directed Upgrade, which premieres at SXSW, points out that Miao obviously gets asked that question because she is Asian and female, whereas the other three men don’t get asked because they are white.
“We just don’t get asked that question,” said Whannell. “I never get asked that as an Australian.” He points out how there is a fair amount of diversity in horror, but how, because of this question, there needs to be more female filmmakers in the genre.
They continued to talk about the initial question of linking horror to identity in film, and Blum talked about how his opinions about Trump and social issues are reflected in the films produced by his company, while Whannell talked about how identity can’t help but bleed into your films.
“I don’t know how to answer that question,” laughed Miao. Identity doesn’t have much to do with the New York City native, who is a child of Chinese immigrants. She enjoyed horror growing up, and now, it seems that working in the genre is an unconscious way of processing the unfamiliar and somewhat of an outsider — like being chased by a killer in the woods.