The Blackening – Tribeca 2023

Melvin Gregg as King, Grace Byers as Allison, Antoinette Robertson as Lisa, Sinqua Walls as Nnamdi, Jermaine Fowler as Clifton, Dewayne Perkins as Dewayne, and Xochitl Mayo as Shanika in The Blackening. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson.

The Blackening is a hysterical laugh riot that subverts every single genre trope when it comes to the horror film genre.

The basic question that this film is asking comes down to what is on the tag line. If the entire cast is Black, which of them will die first? It goes back to horror films where the Black person is usually the first person to die. Of course, I would not know because I generally do not watching horror films because of the nightmares. That being said, I was all set to see The Blackening in Toronto but then the P&I screening was pulled. Cut to a over half a year later and I’m finally watching it. Let me just say that it was completely worth the wait!

The film has a nice mixture of comedy and horror. I would wager to say that it meets somewhere in the middle. Put it this way: if I thought I would have nightmares, I would not have attended. There are so many laughs in the film that I don’t know where to begin.

The Blackening‘s plot is really self-explanatory: a group of friends head to a cabin in the woods for Juneteenth weekend. If you know anything about going to a cabin in the woods in a movie, you know that it’s a recipe for disaster. Anything that can go wrong is going to go wrong. I don’t make the rules here. In any event, this film isn’t messing around. At the same time, it’s showing a group of friends having fun while also having to fight for their lives. It is not an easy combo to pull off but they manage to do so!

The Blackening‘s roots date back to a viral Comedy Central sketch featuring 3PEAT, an improv group originating in Chicago. Dewayne Perkins just happens to be one of the members. Next thing you know, Tracy Oliver watches the short and a film is in development. The rest is history. While some sketches should remain just that, this film doesn’t feel like a one-note comedy. Every character here is fully realized and they bring something to the table. It feels like an actual comedy movie but it does walk the fine line between horror and comedy. It also isn’t a parody even if there might be people who think that’s the case. If you’re expecting Scary Movie, prepare for disappointment.

The Blackening mixes genres but ultimately delivers biting satire.

SCREENWRITERS: Tracy Oliver & Dewayne Perkins
CAST: Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo, Dewayne Perkins, Antoinette Robertson, Sinqua Walls, with Jay Pharoah and Yvonne Orji

The Blackening holds its U.S. premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival in the Spotlight Narrative section. Lionsgate will release the film in theaters on June 16, 2023. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.