Starring: RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins, Sebastian Chacon, Sabrina Carpenter, Maddie Nichols, Madison Thompson, and Diego Abraham
Director: Carey Williams
Director Carey Williams’ short-film-turned-full-length-feature Emergency has an apt handle on making the hyperbolic seem realistic in this Jordan Peele-esque, college-based thriller that is comparable to Superbad and Booksmart. Hilarious at the right moments and heavy when needed, Emergency will have you gripping your seat in laughter and anxiety from start to finish. The plot’s deftly written antics are even more elevated in the hands of the brilliant RJ Cyler and Donald Elise Watkins. Their earnest friendship makes the laughs heartier, the thrills tenser, and puts Emergency on the list of 2022’s best.
Emergency is a film more people should be talking about. As a white male, the film’s central conflict would certainly be a difficult situation, but director Carey Williams does a great job of showing just how different and fearful the same scenario would be for a black male. There are some pacing issues and the humour doesn’t always land quite as well as the hysterical opening, but the performances of RJ Cyler and Donald Elise Watkins carry you through the rough spots. This feels like a Jordan Peele film, and given his output, that should be seen as quite the compliment to Mr. Williams.
Emergency is a bizarre blend of comedy and thriller, and while it can seem tonally scattered at times, it’s nevertheless intriguing. The main trio of the story have a similar dynamic to the trio of Superbad, with Donald Elise Watkins and RJ Cyler giving particularly stand out performances. There are humorous moments, but there also is an ever present threat hanging over the characters’ heads that makes the comedy feel weird. While the film may never find the balance in tone, it perfectly executes its social commentary and ends on a strong, haunting note.