Wanna mock horror films? Been there, seen the “Scary Movie” franchise and the “Scream” saga. That’s a complete of 11 movies, all skewering the style with glee.
That’s not together with two “Haunted House” options.
So straight away “The Blackening” faces some tall odds at being each totally different and satirically sharp.
Issues go downhill at breakneck pace as soon as the story settles into place. A gaggle of black pals reunites at a cabin within the woods (get it???) the place they discover a racist recreation and an insidious killer behind the challenges.
A number of smiles emerge, nothing extra, however the story lumbers on for 96 brutal minutes whereas the characters spout BLM-approved speaking factors till we cry, “uncle!”
The aforementioned pals collect to do medicine and re-open previous wounds after they uncover a board recreation displayed inside the cabin. The sport encompasses a disembodied voice demanding they reply the sport’s questions or folks will die.
The video games in query contain racially-charged questions like, “Name Five Black Actors Who Appeared on the Show ‘Friends,’” (as if that meme isn’t hopelessly stale by now) and the Black Nationwide Anthem.
Quickly, the cabin mates are working for his or her lives round a cabin that may’t discover a single scare inside its halls.
“The Blackening’s” slack prologue is a warning of what’s to return. Even worse? “Saturday Night Live” alum Jay Pharaoh boasts extra presence in his transient display screen time than all the foremost gamers we’re about to satisfy.
That features X Mayo, Sinqua Partitions, Dewayne Perkins and Grace Beyers, none of whom distinguish themselves. Then once more, the ham-fisted script (co-written by Perkins based mostly on his brief movie) does them few favors.
Essentially the most unbearable character, and that’s an actual foot race, is performed by Jermaine Fowler making an attempt a fifth-rate Uriel impression.
‘The Blackening’ Star Dewayne Perkins on His Homosexual Horror Spoof Character and Mining His Coming-Out Story for Comedy https://t.co/UdvnIw3DHS
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 14, 2023
The characters’ ideas on white folks can be studied years from now, stoked by a cultural tide that made such views acceptable in elite circles.
- “White people scare me,” one character complains
- The story’s biracial character, performed by Beyers, loathes her white heritage
- “Are there any white people who wanna kill us? Potentially all of them.”
Director Tim Story isn’t Scorsese or Peele, however he’s capably delivered socially conscious comedy (“Barbershop”) and motion heroics (“Shaft”) previously. Right here, it’s like he’s forgotten all the things he’s discovered over twenty years in Hollywood.
The movie is poorly lit, however not in any method that heightens the worry issue. A battle sequence between considered one of our heroes and the villain is so amateurishly staged it’s onerous to inform what’s occurring at any given second.
We’re additionally handled to limp bounce scares, one other signal of artistic indifference.
Audiences can disagree with the characters’ core beliefs and nonetheless howl on the excessive jinks if the jokes are humorous or impressed. Perhaps the viewers’s preconceived notions on race may very well be nudged by a movie’s commentary.
That’s why popular culture might be so difficult and important. Not one of the gags come shut right here, even when just a few punch traces hit their targets.
One other unforced error?
The movie assumes black folks maintain monolith views on race, the police and rather more. It’s all woke, on a regular basis, and “The Blackening” misses a satirical alternative by ignoring divergent views.
The Urkel stand-in votes for Trump, a uncommon exception, however he aligns along with his friends on each different matter. The MAGA hate right here is appreciable, however as soon as once more it’s by no means intelligent sufficient to warrant its inclusion.
A killer giggle line could make even merciless commentary effectively price a smile. The latter are briefly provide with “The Blackening.”
HiT or Miss: “The Blackening” asks us to cheer on unlikeable characters in a horror-comedy that skimps on each counts.