Starring: Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo, Yvonne Orji, Dewayne Perkins, Jay Pharoah, Antoinette Robertson, and Sinqua Walls
Director: Tim Story
Tim Story's The Blackening is quite a pleasant surprise. Its fun stabs at horror movie tropes are fantastic, and they will have you laughing out loud throughout. Even though it is a dumb horror comedy, it manages to balance its campiness very well, and it knows exactly what tone it is going for the entire time. The ending is admittedly weak, but I promise you’ll have fun watching this hangout flick that is essentially Scary Movie mixed with The Cabin in the Woods in all the right ways.
After watching the short film on which it is based, it's clear The Blackening was better suited as a short. It's not a bad movie, but the plot has no reason to be stretched out to more than 90 minutes. There is a lot of humour in the opening half hour, but after that, it just feels like a B-movie slasher with characters that wear out their welcome, especially Clifton (Jermaine Fowler). Ultimately, this is a great example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That said, please do yourself a favour by watching the short film.
Based on 3-Peat Comedy’s sketch of the same name, The Blackening’s premise is brilliant. However, the feature film version loses most of the sketch’s witty commentary about Blackness by also forcing a commentary on horror tropes. It still poses humorous questions about racial stereotypes, but never takes them far enough to be hilarious. It’s like it’s pulling its punches. For example, jokes about not knowing how to play Spades being evidence of being “less black” weren’t funny, which makes me wonder: am I too white to find it funny, or too familiar with black culture (I mean, I can play Spades) to find it subversive?
This film was reviewed by Nick and Quentin as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.