Southern Gothic is a sub-genre of fiction that takes place in the American South and that focuses on “grotesque themes”, “damaged, and delusional characters,” with hints of darkness and the supernatural. It also acts as the over-arching theme of Eve’s Bayou (1997), which looks into the façade of an African-American family, living deep in the swamps of 1960’s Louisiana. Writer and director Kasi Lemmons (Harriet (2019)), depicts a black experience that doesn’t root itself in political trauma nor its relationship to the white race. She shows the pulls and tides of familial relationships in an Aster-esque, thoughtful way that displays humanity through the emotions of the women and their psychic abilities.
Eve’s Bayou follows the Batiste family, who act as a picture-perfect vision of the American family; they live in a home with four bathrooms and are able to throw lavish house parties filled with laughter and classical, Southern ambiance. It is the youngest daughter, Eve (Jurnee Smollett), that acts as the narrator of the film, telling her story through a collection of memories of the summer of 1962. Like most ten-year olds, Eve spends most of her time tormenting her younger brother, Poe (Jake Smollett), and riding a push and pull relationship with her older sister, Cisely (Meagan Good), as they both battle for the attention of their mostly absent father, Louis (Samuel L. Jackson.) However, behind the mask of this perfect family lies a Pandora’s box of family secrets and traumas. As Lemmons’ states, memories can be ‘elusive’ and childhood trauma can piece itself together differently in order for the world to make sense. Eve is a wildly misinformed child, no matter how ironclad her memories may feel, you can feel parts of the story missing, keeping the film elusive and open to discussion.