Cliches For the Culture in Horror/Comedy Gem "The Blackening"
The correct answer is always dark-skinned Aunt Viv
This piece is part of the Tribeca 2023 coverage here on “I Care About…” //
A few friends from college meet up at a cabin in the woods for a reunion during Juneteenth. There’s drama, drugs, and booze — and a killer in steel-toed boots is trying to kill them unless they can answer questions that only Black millennials really know the answer to. Imagine you think you’re going to kick it in a cozy cabin with a few friends and reminiscence, but instead you end up forced into a trivia game by a Sambo doll and you have to play it to survive the night.
The Blackening is equal parts hilarious homage to satirical scary movies and a response to the call for more representation of Black folks in modern horror films. Written by Dewayne Perkins it went from a sketch, to a short, to getting the Hollywood treatment. The story has been told so much it seems like it’s going to become a piece of film folklore and I FUCKING LOVE THAT. What film student in some class 20 years from now won’t want to listen to the story of the sketch that turned into a huge production with some of the flyest folks in the game? Tracy Oliver, Tim Story, Sinqua Wells, Jermaine Fowler, Yvonne Orji, and so many more?! “Yes Professor Shelli we do want you to tell the story again!”
I got to see it ahead of its Tribeca premiere at an advance screening here in Chicago with the folks behind The BlaQ Agenda. As I sat in the theatre waiting for my partner to meet me at our seats with treats, I struck up a convo with the person next to me. We started chatting about what we both did and how we knew the crew, but ever so often I kept looking up for my partner as more and more folks started to stream in. If I saw a hint of a person with locs out the corner of my eye during the convo I checked to see if it was my partner.
“I’m sorry I keep turning away! I just keep seeing Black folks come in with locs and checking to see if it’s my partner so they know where I’m sitting” I said to the now not-so-stranger, “That’s such a good problem to have! The fact that this theatre keeps filling up with Black folks!” and they were so right.
Most of the people at the screening were Black. On a random weeknight at 7 PM, about 130 Black folks showed up to have a collective moment of joy. To spend just over 90 minutes screaming, laughing, and talking at the screen celebrating the success of one of Chicago’s own who was actually in attendance that night.
It’s a slasher summer comedy and it almost feels as though you’re expected to say your thoughts out loud to the characters because you almost feel like you’re one of them. If you’re in it for the more traditional horror vibes, it has just the right amount of blood, gore, and jumpscares to satisfy you. If you’re in it for the comedy vibes it has more than enough quick quips to make you giggle. The story flows, the actors play well off each other, and everything comes together to make this a pretty dope addition to the world of Black horror films.
We’ve always been present in the genre, but with the creation of things like the internet and streaming services, reaching folks with film has become so much easier so the need for actual representation in all genres of film has grown even more important than it has been in the past.
In a genre that is soaked in the same old clichés and predictable tropes, Black horror brings something fresh. The Blackening managed to delve into our cultural experience, tap into some social issues, make us cringe here and there, AND made us laugh through jump scares. It was a fun reminder that diversity in horror shouldn’t just be some token gesture — and it was a little gay so duh 9’s (and one 8) across the motherfucking board.
Maya Cade created the Black Film Archive. It’s such a fucking fantastic resource to have as a film lover and critic — but especially as a BLACK film lover and critic. You can just go for a beautiful ride through Black Cinema every time you click on the site. If you know her tell her to let me get an interview!
I was gonna name this piece “The Blackening” Has Jumpscares & Jiggaboos for Days! but I don’t know a lot of y’all like that yet, and realized you probably haven’t seen the movie yet so you wouldn’t understand that title so I like, opted out and went another route.
WATCH THE TRAILER AND THEN GO BUY TICKETS AND SHOW ME PROOF!
Even if you’re not a nigga you ought to buy tickets and see it like 3 times.
This film made it to my fav sub-genre of films that take place all in one day!!!
Subscribe & Support <3