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  • Writer's pictureAlta's Oyster

The Blackening Delivers Jokes, Jabs, and Black Joy

Directed by Tim Story, the Blackening is a laugh out loud horror satire that uses a racist horror movie trope (the Black character dies first) as a jump off point to deliver gold in the form of quick-witted jokes, inside jokes, jabs, and Black joy.

The Blackening movie poster, featuring the seven principal characters.
Source: Lionsgate

The Blackening understood the assignment. It took itself seriously enough to deliver its message(s) but not too serious where they wasted their time making us guess who was behind everything. The mastermind was very obvious, although I admit was thrown off the scent a bit at the reveal of the racist twins. But I was ultimately right!

And the movie respects it's audience enough not to play us on that front. Instead, it focuses on showcasing the fun, interesting things about its characters (and therefore Black people) and their relationship dynamics. First of all, translating The Look into actual telepathy is genius. When we heard Lisa, played by Antoinette Robertson, and Allison's, played by Grace Byers, thoughts in the car, I was delighted. And then I was overjoyed when Nnamdi and Dewayne did it, too, because yes. It's not just a Black women thing. It's a Black people thing. We all communicate via The Look.

Even self-haters like Clifton, played by Jermaine Fowler, can do it if they apply themselves. Fowler did a phenomenal job with the material, especially once Clifton let the crazy flag fly. The fact that Clifton can understand and communicate via The Look underscores that he's doing too much! Yes, it's hurtful to be told you're not Black enough. But killing folks? I'd say making Black friends was an available option, but I guess it wasn't since he went to jail and all. Still, there were other options!

I'm pleased with the fact that the movie respected everyone. I think the straight men were a given, so by everyone, I mean the Black women and the gay man. Especially the gay man, in this case. Dewayne, played by Dewayne Perkins (who also wrote the story with Tracy Oliver) even got to deliver the final blow. While every character dips into stereotypes, no one was treated like a caricature. Literally every character contributed to the group's survival, which is another message I loved: they worked together to survive the night. Even after they separated, they went back for each other after learning new information.

The Blackening does such a great job of portraying each character as a competent player that Lisa's line asking why do Black women always have to save everyone as she bludgeons one of the killers to death falls flat. That line and Allison's Adderall-powered fight moves were the only things that didn't work for me.

The Blackening is worth the price of admission. I want more of this, more horror centered on Black characters, written by Black writers, comedic or straightforward ala Jordan Peele's Us, give them all to me!

What was your favorite part of The Blackening?



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