“The Blackening” was directed by Tim Story, a writer, producer and director. He directed, among many others, “Shaft,” “Ride Along,” and Barbershop.” Early on, he directed music videos for L.O.X, Ginuwine, Tyrese, Color Me Badd and NSYNC.
He’s one of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood. One reason? He is fearless in taking on a project that someone else might think is beneath his talents. I speak of Tom & Jerry and even standup comedy specials. Several of his films debuted at number one on opening weekend and in total, have grossed millions. “The Blackening” will be no different. His movies combined have now made over a billion dollars. That is not bad for a guy who started with music videos right out of film school.
Now that you know a little about him, let’s fill you in on his latest project. It’s a hysterical horror, caper unlike anything you’ve seen before. What has been a staple in horror films throughout the years is that either a woman falls as she runs and gets killed, or characters in these movies or television shows, generally unnamed and rarely seen, are black and die first. After a while, it was just expected. Here, Tim and writers Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip, Harlem) and Dewayne Perkins (The Amber Ruffin Show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) play with that idea while asking you, what if all the would-be victims were black?
The premise of “The Blackening” is that some friends meet up for a reunion on Juneteenth. Playing games is definitely on the table, as they always played when they were in college together. A couple got there by themselves first. Outside of wanting to burn some sage because a “cabin in the woods” isn’t usually somewhere black people should be, the couple, Morgan (Yvonne Orji) and Shawn (Jay Pharoah), wander into a room. Why they do this is baffling because the door suddenly has a sign that says “Game Room” on it when it didn’t before. Yes. The couple goes in. They do not come back out. And this is all before the credits! Fantastic!
It’s freaky, but you can already tell that the rest of the movie will give you the goods. There are jokes about white people in horror films, doors creak EVERYWHERE the cast goes, but, like white people in movies such as this one, the group still goes in those doors.
What becomes so amusing is that they start discussing why they shouldn’t do certain things, as if they were in a horror film and don’t want to do the wrong things like the characters always do.
When the entire gang is there, they go into the game room, of course, and have to play a game or die. The game has pieces specifically for each of them and an inappropriate face smiles at them from the gameboard. It asks them questions about black culture, including shows, politics, actors and black inventors. When the game gets out of hand, they finally awaken to the fact that if they don’t escape, they’re not making it through the night.
I’ll say it. There were parts of “The Blackening” I didn’t quite understand because of my ethnicity. These parts were still comical, but there were a few things that went over my head as to why I only chuckled, but the audience I saw it with was filling the theater with laughter. The cast is perfect and there are enough jump scares to keep you on the edge of your seat, too. I have to recommend you see this movie THIS weekend. It’s the perfect time of year to come out and you’ll have a good hardy laugh when they seem to be so rare these days. But I’d like to add this, no matter who you are, if you like a good comedy, this movie is for you.
Directed by: Tim Story
Written by: Dewayne Perkins, Tracy Oliver
Starring: Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo, Sinqua Walls, Jay Pharoah
Rated: R (Violence|Pervasive Language|Drug Use)
Runtime: 1h 36m
Genres: Horror, Comedy
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Producers: Tim Story, Tracy Oliver, E. Brian Dobbins, Sharla Sumpter Bridge, Jason Clark, Marcei A. Brown
Production Co: MRC Film, Lionsgate, Catchlight Studios, Media Rights Capital (MRC), The Story Company
Release Date (Theaters): Jun 16, 2023 *Wide