The Blackening - New Release Review
Director: Tim Story
Starring: Dewayne Perkins, X Mayo, Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler
Written by: Tracy Oliver, Dewayne Perkins
Produced by: Sharla Sumpter Bridgett, Marcel A. Brown, Jason Clark, E. Brian Dobbins, Tracy Oliver, Tim Story
Cinematography by: Todd A. Dos Reis
Original Score by: Dexter Story
Seven friends go away for the weekend and end up trapped in a cabin with a killer who has a vendetta.
Horror comedies must be one of the hardest genres to crack. Laughter and Terror are similar on the same scale of how they effect their audience. The build up and release of a joke is the exact same as the tension and release of Michael Myers stalking Laurie Strode. It’s why comedians like Jordan Peele (Nope) and Zach Cregger (Barbarian) have delivered excellent horror films in the last few years. Of course, not everyone is great at telling a joke/scaring someone. The difference between something like 'Scary Movie' and 'Scary Movie 5' is that 'Scary Movie' is made by expert joke tellers with wit and precision time. While 'Scary Movie 5' is made by idiots with the comedy timing of a fart at a funeral. When I saw 'The Blackening' being previewed, I got excited at first. Young cast, funny premise, it looked very promising...until...I seen it was being directed by Tim Story. Director of some of the worst films I've ever seen (Tom and Jerry, Fantastic Four 1&2, Ride Along and honestly the list goes on) but I was willing to give him a chance. 13th times the charm, right?
It’s apparent from the first few scenes that the cast are having a fantastic time together playing in scenes. The cast of 7 characters are all meant to be old high school friends meeting up for a reunion and it definitely feels like all these characters have known each other for years. The two highlights from the cast are X Mayo as Shanika and Dewayne Perkins as Dewayne. Perkins is actually one of the writers of the film (along with Tracy Oliver) and the writers very much have their finger on the pulse of modern-day black culture.
The film isn’t quite parody, although it does lift from horror films like 'Saw', 'Friday the 13th' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. The film is more of a satire of black stereotypes in horror films. They don’t really say anything new here, but it is executed in a funny enough manner, that they get away with it. Just to go back to X Mayo (great name), she has some of the funniest lines in the film. They feel improvised in the moment, which brings a freshness to the comedy. She’s used just enough and is absolutely the standout in the cast. She has a line that I'll not spoil, but I honestly howled out loud when she said it.
So Mr. Tim Story. How did he do? Actually, not bad. If you’ve seen one of his previous films 'Barbershop' it’s obvious that he knows when to sit back and just let the funny people work out the scenes. He doesn’t bring any sort of flair to the film, everything is filmed quite flat and basic, but he gets the job done. There’s a twist in the film that's telegraphed within the first few minutes and you’d honestly have to be an idiot not to see it coming. I could blame the script, but the direction he gives a certain actors performance really gives away the game. This is Tim’s best film, but only because it’s elevated by the cast and script. Ya lucky this time, Story *shakes fist*
It may not be for everyone, but I had a great time watching 'The Blackening'. There’re some jokes that went over my head culturally but most of the time I was laughing hard. When it comes to the horror aspect, it’s never scary but is a fun stalker/home invasion movie. The twist might fool some audience members, but I'd honestly be surprised if it did. The film does end with the potential of a sequel, and I would honestly love to see more from these characters. The film never shies away from being ridiculous at times, so I'd love to see these characters take on other horror tropes like vampires, zombies and ghosts.
- Adam Neeson
'The Blackening' hits UK cinemas on August 25th