The Blackening Review – Reinventing the Genre Through Laughter

Mark Pacis

The Blackening

When Get Out arrived in theaters, most moviegoers assumed it would be a horror satire similar to Shaun of the Dead or Cabin in the Wood. After all, the film comes from one-half of Key & Peele. Of course, now we realize that the breakout hit subverted people’s expectations by becoming a genre-bending thriller. The Oscar-winning flick signaled a new rise of horror cinema, paving the way for movies like Nia DeCosta’s Candyman, Chris Rock’s Jigsaw, and Jordan Peele’s recent films. Now, we have the incredibly ingenious and amusing horror-comedy The Blackening.

Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie knows the age-old tragic trope that the token black characters are typically the first to get killed. However, what if all the characters are black? That’s what The Blackening tries to (not-so-subtly) explore. 

Unfortunately, the film isn’t as scary as you might expect. Director Tim Story (Fantastic Four and Barbershop) isn’t necessarily a horror director; many jump scares and kills fall flat. Not to mention, there isn’t a lot of tension building in the film. Nevertheless, the kills in The Blackening are decent, and the killer’s choice of weapon (a crossbow) is novel. 

The Blackening is the perfect blend of blood and gore mixed with intelligent dialogue and plenty of laughs.

While The Blackening isn’t scary, the film is downright hilarious. The comedy and camaraderie between the friends make the film stand out. These characters do things that most horror films don’t: Fight and support each other as real friends do. This ensemble is eclectic and downright hilarious. The cast has excellent chemistry and comedic timing, and their delivery lands perfectly. At the same time, Dewayne Perkins and Tracy Oliver’s script contain tons of intelligent, savvy jokes.

The film is hilarious in the way it tackles everything from apparent stereotypes to ingrained cultural prejudice within the group. The script doesn’t allow its characters to delve into the questionable decisions plaguing most horror films because of the character’s experiences in the real world. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of stupidity to go around, even for perhaps the most competent cast of characters in slasher flicks; it’s somewhat unavoidable if you take Molly right before a murderer shows up with a game as racist as it is deadly.

Overall, The Blackening is the perfect blend of blood and gore mixed with intelligent dialogue and plenty of laughs. The film is well worth your time, and it succeeds in breaking down the stereotypical tropes of black characters in a horror movie. While the scares are minimal, it doesn’t take away from the film’s overall enjoyment.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

The Blackening hits theaters on June 16th.