June 15, 2023
“The Blackening,” from writers Tracy Oliver (“Harlem,” “Little”) and Dewayne Perkins (“The Break with Michelle Wolf,” “Brooklyn 9-9”) and director Tim Story (“Taxi,” “Experience Alongside”), follows a bunch of buddies holding a reunion over Juneteenth weekend at a distant cabin within the woods. When a mysterious killer forces them to play a recreation, they have to use their horror data to remain alive and escape their stalker.
Whereas studio-backed horror comedies typically depend on exhausted tropes, “The Blackening” tells an authentic story with its meta-writing and witty plot beats. The movie takes horror cliches, corresponding to splitting up or utilizing unconventional weapons like rolling pins and different home goods, and cleverly and naturally makes use of them to poke enjoyable at traditional slasher motion pictures. Whereas most horror comedies are likely to lean much less scary and extra humorous, the movie efficiently balances humor and terror. “The Blackening” contains moments the place characters snort on the unwise decisions of ill-fated horror characters solely to make the identical choices, like exploring dimly-lit, hidden again rooms. Regardless of these comedic bits, the film crafts anxiety-inducing horror sequences, together with a scene wherein the protagonists are locked in a room and compelled to observe the masked killer assault their good friend.
“The Blackening” additionally incorporates commentary on the Black expertise in fashionable America by characters who specific uneasiness in rural cities and interactions with regulation enforcement. The movie’s tagline — “we will’t all die first” — references horror’s problematic dealing with of Black characters in slashers, as defined by Xavier Burgin’s documentary “Horror Noire: A Historical past of Black Horror” that includes Black horror icons like William Crain and Ernest R. Dickerson. The film even straight references Black actors in horror, like Jada Pinkett Smith’s look within the “Scream 2” chilly open.
Though a standard situation with slasher comedies issues weak characters, this may’t be mentioned for “The Blackening.” Each predominant character is fleshed out nicely and feels plausible. There’s not a single bland character among the many bunch, and each subplot and story arc revolving across the protagonists stays pleasant all through the runtime. That is largely as a result of actors’ glorious solid chemistry and meticulous character-building. The actors construct full character backstories and make each motion and resolution really feel life like, from emotional responses in moments of misery to decision-making in life-or-death situations.
“The Blackening” blends horror and comedy to depart audiences in a state of simultaneous laughter and terror, all inside a cushty hour-and-a-half runtime. Any filmmaker seeking to try a future horror comedy ought to take notes.
4 laughs of terror out of 5