‘The Blackening’: A movie we didn’t know we needed

19 Nov, 2023 - 00:11 0 Views
‘The Blackening’: A movie  we didn’t know we needed A scene from “The Blackening”

The Sunday Mail

Film Review

Tinashe Kusema

THE universe is about maintaining balance, not fairness.

But it is by means of balance that true fairness exists in the universe.

Take the last couple of years, for example.

Hollywood has bombarded us with sequels, prequels and reboots that nobody really wanted, asked for and, in some cases, cared to see.

Nostalgia is apparently big business nowadays and Hollywood does not really care about things like logic.

If there is potential to make good money, then any and every project will be given the green light.

For instance, plans are underway for a “Face/Off” sequel.

This is despite the fact that it is now roughly 26 years since the original movie came out.

The movie’s main stars — Nicholas Cage (59) and John Travolta (69) — are well in their twilight years.

Also, one of the main characters (Cage) died towards the end of the first movie.

Luckily, the laws of balance dictate that for every movie we do not need, there has to be one that we do need, and “The Blackening” could very well be one of the latter.

The film takes an underrated genre (horror), flips it upside down and sprinkles some comedy to make one of the most slept-on movies of the year.

“The Blackening” follows a group of 20-something African Americans who reunite for a “Juneteenth celebration” weekend in a remote cabin in the woods.

Their weekend veers off the rails when they come across a board game called “The Blackening”, which features a lot of racial undertones and caricatures.

The catch, as the group soon discovers, is that for every question they get wrong, a member of their group gets killed.

What ensues is 97 minutes of comedy gold.

The plot is simple and easy to follow, something refreshing given the plethora of complex storylines and long-term storytelling devices that seem to be the in-thing in modern cinema.

The cast and chemistry are on point. The cast is a mixture of upcoming names like Grace Byers (Allison), Antoinette Robertson (Lisa), Sinqua Walls (Nnamdi) and talented comedians like X Mayo (Shanika), Melvin Gregg (King) and Dewayne Perkins (Dewayne).

The chemistry of the entire ensemble is key to the film’s success, as each character knows and executes their role well.

Comedians Mayo, Gregg and Perkins are the true stars of the film.

Their comedy chops are a delight but do not necessarily ruin the horror elements of the film.

Do not get me wrong. The film is more than a caricature of old and new horror movies.

It addresses the representation of black people in movies, exposing some of the clichéd tropes of the genre, like black people dying first in all or most horror movies.

There is also the issue of characters separating when faced with an unknown killer and — this is my favourite — how the sitcom “Friends” is reckoned in black culture.

There is a lesson or two to be learnt from this movie, as it is entertaining and educative at the same time.

It achieves what the “Scary Movie” franchise tried and failed to do during the early 2000s.

Writers Tracy Oliver and Perkins deserve a lot of praise for a job well done.

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