Sumiko Saulson’s Black Women in Horror Writing #19: Zane

dark-dreams

“Resident Evil” by Zane, from Dark Dreams: A Collection of Horror and Suspense by Black Writers

Review by Bryan Cebulski (@BryanOnion)

Bearing no resemblance to any Japanese survival-horror videogame franchise, “Resident Evil” is the opening story of the collection Dark Dreams: A Collection of Horror and Suspense by Black Writers, edited by Brandon Massey. It’s an odd choice for the first story. Understandable though that they gave Zane opening privileges, since Zane might be the most well-known of the authors featured in the book.

Oddly enough I’m not really Zane’s target demographic, but I’m still familiar with her enough to know that she is predominantly an author of erotica. And, well, it shows in this story. “Resident Evil” is about a woman who has just moved into a new apartment building and discovers that it actually houses a centuries-old vamp-man who lures attractive women into renting there, at which point he turns them into vampires and creates his own kinky undead harem.

It’s an interesting setup for a narrative, but that’s all it ends up being—a setup. Relationships are established, conflicts brought to light, the whole situation of the apartment complex basically laid out—and then it ends. There’s a sexual encounter there in the middle, but not much else. Conceptually it’s disturbing, but Zane doesn’t do anything else with the disturbing implications beyond giving the story a sort of wry dark comedy edge. As one Goodreads reviewer put it, “This story was very immature, like every teen boy’s fantasy. It wasn’t horror – it was a comedy about a grown ass 500 year old MAN who still needs his MOMMA.”

Now, interestingly enough I think the story could have gone in a direction that subverted that “teen boy’s fantasy” of the vampire harem. The women in Zane’s story almost entirely make clear their dissatisfaction with their lot in, uh, after-life. The mother character especially could have gone somewhere, perhaps organizing a pained but necessary assassination of her son. But nobody ends up doing much of anything once the reader gets what the situation is. The characters develop—promisingly too, I might add—but don’t lead anywhere. There’s no moral, which isn’t necessary I guess, but more to the point there’s no arc. It’s not a story, it’s a premise.

Previous: Mixtape for the Apocalypse by Jemiah Jefferson | Next: TBA

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About Bryan Cebulski

Historian, critic, author. Undercover queer. Aspiring P&C adventure protagonist. Collects bad habits like Jessica Rabbit.
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