During WonderCon, creator Little Marvin sat down with the cast of his upcoming Amazon series Them. He discussed what led him to create the series, and the horror media that influenced his work.

“Terror has been something on my mind for a long time, but in the last four years a lot. I started writing this show three years ago during a summer where I felt like I would never stop waking up to cell phone videos of black folks being terrorized by police, by the threat of police, in public spaces, in stores.

And I started to think about all the times I felt terror in my life, and about the sort of larger terror of navigating the country in black skin. It’s not a surprise to anyone who knows, public spaces have been weaponized against black folks from the dawn of this country. 

But what I hadn’t really seen was that tension between the public and the private space, particularly in the home. If the world outside is crazy, your neighbors are crazy, your colleagues are crazy, the world is crazy, but here at home we’ve got each other. So the jumping off point was what if the home turns on you too? In that tension the show began.”

The 1950s-set first season of Them centers on a Black family who moves from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood during the period known as The Great Migration. Then the family’s idyllic home becomes ground zero where malevolent forces, next-door and otherworldly, threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.

Little Marvin combined the real-life terror of racism in America with his love for classic 60s and 70s horror to create Them. He cites Rosemary’s Baby, Don’t Look Now, and Repulsion as influences, and details how he made sure music played an essential role in building the terror in the show.

The creator wants the show to scare audiences, but also to make them think about the world we live in.

“If you’re able to come away from the show with a greater understanding that the word “segregation” is not some name from the distant past, but is in fact part and parcel of the way we live today…there’s no greater hope than that.”

Hear more from Little Marvin himself, as well as the core cast, in the full WonderCon panel interview below.

Them premieres on Amazon Prime April 9.