HOLLYWOOD—I truly did not know how I would feel about the horror comedy “The Blackening” which is more of a satire on the world of African-Americans in the horror genre. There is plenty of realness that anyone who is Black will immediately identify with, but at the same time, there is a humor to the way the narrative is crafted that is so damn entertaining. First and foremost, this is unlike anything I have ever seen on the big screen, because horror and Black people it is a combination you don’t see often, especially with an all-Black cast.
I would truly have to delve into the world of horror and its depiction of African-Americans which has not been kind over the years. We don’t have the time to do that here because it would take quite some time if we are being honest. However, with plenty of horror flicks in the past, the sole Black character tends to die, is a sidekick to their White counterpart and very rarely does a character who happens to be Black make it to the end in a primary role.
Before “Scream” (2022) and “Scream VI,” the only characters I can think of who survived a horror flick where they weren’t a toss-away character was LL Cool J in “Halloween H20” and Brandy Norwood in “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.” Yes, there are probably more, but I’m not about to list them all, I could point out Loretta Devine from the 1998 flick “Urban Legend” as a survivor as well, but again she was the sole Black character in the movie.
Forget all that, “The Blackening” follows a group of friends who journey to the cabin to celebrate Juneteenth. Look, I’ll be honest, before 2020, I had no idea about the importance of this holiday that was just recently implemented into a federal holiday like 2 years ago. We didn’t learn about it in our history class in school. With that said, it was the tale of slaves learning in Galveston, Texas that they were free. So this flick has a wickedly entertaining opening that kicks off the rest of the terror that delivers the laughs in a way that is iconic.
It tackles a board game that tests our characters knowledge of Black culture and their level of Blackness, and then the fun begins with a killer who dons Blackface and a bow and arrow as he targets our protagonists. I loved the characters in the flick whose personalities were fleshed out, it is not the Black character; they are characters who happen to be Black and that’s a welcome change for the genre people.
I loved the character of Allison (Grace Byers), who is the smart one, but her street smarts might be questionable. Then you compare her to Lisa (Antoinette Robinson), who is the empowered one, but in a relationship with Nnamdi (Sinqua Walls), who has been quite unfaithful, but Lisa is back with him and the others have no clue. We also have Shanika (X Mayo), who is hilarious as the comic relief in the flick. These characters mesh so well, and as a spectator you believe they are friends having a fun vacation and cutting it up.
The discussions around Spades (a popular card game in the Black community), politics, relationships and so much more is discussed here. Hell, we even have these characters tackle the troupes that so many people say never to do. Leave and say you’ll be “Right back,” splitting up, that is the big one, going into a dark room alone, the list can go on and on. That is what I found so fascinating about this movie, the things Black people should not do in a horror movie, our characters end up doing those exact things, with funny, salacious and sometimes deadly results.
Our villain here is fantastic and there are a few interesting twists in the flick that will have the audience screaming at the big screen. There are certain movies you need to see in a theater and with an audience and horror is at the top of the list as it brings a level of comradery with those surrounding you. Now the question everyone keeps asking is rather this flick is ONLY entertaining for Black audiences? No, but should you be slightly versed in Black culture to understand some of the jokes, yes. However, don’t deem this a Black movie even though it has an all-black cast, everyone can enjoy this movie and learn a few things also.
The script by Dewayne Perkins, who stars as Dewayne and Tracy Oliver, is witty and clever and director Tim Story delivers a solid pacing where the audience will not get bored one bit. Things move along and never linger longer than they need to. “The Blackening” was a good time for laughs and a bit of terror, and this is coming from someone who is well versed in the horror genre, and isn’t a fan of meshing horror with comedy, but it works here people.