The Black Guy Dies First
February 24, 2023
Book Review

The Black Guy Dies First

reviewed by Fiona Cook

The Black Guy Dies First – a trope so widespread that even the most casual of horror fans is familiar with the fact that, given a diverse cast, the reaper will be coming for the minority characters first. And that’s the point of discussion that kicks off this fantastic examination of Black characters in cinema; because why is that exactly?

The authors are both founts of knowledge on the subject. Robin R. Means Coleman is an award-winning scholar in the field of media studies and cultural politics, while Mark H. Harris has been an entertainment journalist for over twenty years, as well as founding Between the two of them, it’s clear to the reader that there is a thorough and working knowledge of not just horror, not just cinema, not just Blackness and its treatment in media – but a combination of all three that leaves no stone unturnable in the conversation.

I say conversation, because considering our two very knowledgeable authors, The Black Guy Dies First feels less of a textbook, and more of a conversation with a particularly passionate friend. The material is comprehensive, but presented in a very readable style – chapters broken up with lists featuring such categories as “Frequent Dier Awards” or “Terrible Hip-Hop Theme Songs from Horror Movies” (a personal favorite). The authors clearly map the development of horror cinema and it’s relationship with Blackness, while making clear their intention is not just to teach, but to entertain; and they have absolutely succeeded. This is not just a book I’ve enjoyed reading (although I have, thoroughly), and not just a valuable resource I’ll refer back to again and again. It’s a combination of the two, and all the more worthwhile for it.

The Black Guy Dies First available at: