Latinx Heritage in Horror: Interview with Henry Bedwell
Henry Bedwell is a well-known director, writer, and producer in Mexico, who has dedicated most of his work to Horror and Fantasy movies and novels.
He started his career as a TV producer back in the early 2000s. Henry was in charge of writing and directing a new version of the Mexican horror classic film Darker than Night. Wrote and directed Forward, a multi-awarded Horror extravaganza made entirely in one shot. Wrote and directed Karem The Possession released in 2021. As a writer, has published and contributed to several novels and anthologies such as Regreso a Aztlan, Ars Mortis, Juegos Dementes, and Juego de Niños. He’s now considered the most important Horror director in Mexico.
What inspired you to start writing?
A basic need to tell stories. Since I was a child I’ve always wanted to tell everybody what was going around my head and those particular events that usually happened in my mother’s house. I found that putting my experiences on paper would become the easiest way for me to express what life was like when raised in a very haunted place. In the beginning, it also became the cheapest therapy for a very scary young child who wanted to understand what was happening in my surroundings. After the years writing became more than an obsession and a way to make a living. Writing gives you the chance to get in touch with so many worlds, so many characters and so many adventures that real life would never give you. That’s mainly why I love writing.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I’m Mexican, and part of that comes with a genuine understanding of the supernatural and paranormal. We all have a family story that comes from generations. We are very used to living like that and to live with that. Horror, for me, is a way to connect with people. We all have fears and we all have, at least one time in our life, got really scared and petrified by a story or a movie or a tale told by our grandparents. So the horror genre goes far beyond just a story, it grows inside you and becomes that companion who will travel along with you until the day you die. As Latins, we know that, and we manage to live with that. We are good at scaring people, and I guess that’s because we do have horror tattooed in our DNA. For me Horror is culture.
Do you make a conscious effort to include LatinX characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Always! Latin culture is rich in legends, tales, and stories. We have a vast number of monsters, demons, and creatures that easily match the needs of a horror story. In my particular case, I love stories about possession and ghosts, because in most cases our religious background gives us the opportunity to play a little bit with faith and dogmas that are currently valid these days. Writing about that makes our readers the need to question themselves “Would this be possible? What if that happens to me? So we, as writers are more open to play with suggestions and lead them to experience horror itself. It’s a way of spreading our horror culture to the world.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
For me, horror has become an abreaction. The way to redeem and get in touch with my inner demons. As well as the most exciting way to understand what I could call “The other world” One that perfectly mixes reality and fantasy. The world is not the coolest place, but once you get to understand it you might find it kind of bearable, but when you add Horror to the equation, it gets really amazing.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
It has changed a lot. I’m an 80’s decade lover and was part of that particular period of time. We were open to being amazed, thrilled, and scared. Every experience we had the chance to live, we lived to the fullest. We learned from the masters and got scared of the classics. Our imagination helped us to live with different emotions and feelings. Now, our capacity to be amazed has been minimized. We live in a mega-communicated, overstimulated, and more wicked society. Life is just like that today. And in order to keep on evolving and surprising the new generations, I believe Horror has to get back to the basics. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, and how much money you have… you will always have Fear. So Fear will keep on being our raw material to tell stories.
How do you feel the LatinX community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?
I believe that LatinX has made a huge contribution to the genre worldwide. It’s something in the way we feel the stories. Latinos are trending everywhere, and that tendency will go on and on for the upcoming years. We know how to tell horror stories because they are part of our lives.
Who are some of your favorite LatinX characters in horror?
La Llorona is definitely one of the most important characters in the Latin horror culture. She has different names throughout Latin America, but the story of this damned woman that cries for her children exists from Mexico to Argentina. I particularly love Mexican witches, but as part of my beliefs, I must consider a haunted house as a character. So haunted houses are my favorite LatinX characters.
Who are some LatinX horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
Definitely, and without any doubt, Sandra Becerril. I believe she is the most important horror writer in Mexico and Latin America. She has a unique style and her storytelling is loveable, and poetic but at the same time terrifying, macabre, and scary as hell.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Keep on, Keep on! Do not hesitate to share your stories with the world. The world has changed and also the audiences but we still have Fear by our side. There are no better ways to explore how disturbed a human mind can be than horror, there is no better way to test our boundaries than horror, and there is no better way to show our roots and culture to the world than horror. So let’s keep on inviting them to join us in this macabre journey.
And to the LatinX writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Prepare yourself a lot. Write a lot, read a lot. Compare your papers with those from the big ones. Learn. Be honest and be humble.
Do not be afraid to scare others.