The Blackening (2023) Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

There are so many things that are done right in this film that make it a solid entry in the comedy/horror genre.

Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie knows the age-old trope that there is always one token black friend in the group and he or she (or sometimes it is a couple) is typically the first one to get killed.  It has almost become a running joke at this point but what if all the characters are black? How does the killer choose who to target?  "We can't all die first" is the tagline of the new comedy/horror film, The Blackening.  Based on a comedy sketch, Dewayne Perkins (The Upshaws) performed with the improv group 3Peat, he co-wrote the script with Tracy Oliver (Girl Trip). 

A group of friends plan a weekend get-together at, where else?... a remote cabin in the woods of course. They decide to meet to celebrate Juneteenth and just spend some time together despite some squabbles between members of the group.  Weekend organizer Morgan (Yvonne Orji; Insecure) and her boyfriend Shawn (Jay Pharoah; Saturday Night Live) arrive at the cabin first.  As they explore the house, they find a locked door labeled game room.  

Eventually, the door opens and as they look inside they find a variety of games.  In the middle of the room is a table on which sits a game named The Blackening.  When the Sambo-like face in the middle of the board game talks to them, they initially think it is a joke until they find out it isn't and what is behind the game room door is really dangerous and deadly.  

When the others slowly make it to the house, they find Morgan and Shawn aren't there. After some time they too find the game room and, after being locked in the room, they too are forced to play the game.  It is then that the killer reveals that Morgan is being held captive and they must answer correctly to save her and themselves.

There are so many things that are done right in this film that make it a solid entry into the comedy/horror genre.  First, there is the story and the script.  The idea for the initial sketch was brilliant and Perkins and Oliver's collaboration resulted in an expanded version that is suspenseful and hilarious.  If there was to be any criticism it would be that there could have been even more jokes peppered throughout.

Next, is the cast.  This ensemble is both eclectic and likeminded resulting in the feeling that they really are good friends.  They have terrific chemistry and comedic timing that the jokes land perfectly while the script doesn't become overpowered by jabs and jokes at the other's expense. They are all very funny individually but put them all together and their performances become enhanced and elevated.

Leading this group is accomplished director, Tim Story (Fantastic Four), whose eye for details and varying angles serve him well with this project.  Like the film itself,  Story offers a different point of view for common shots in horror films.  He also keeps the pacing upbeat and steady throughout so there aren't any moments that seem disjointed or unnecessary.

Self-deprecating humor typically tends to be funny and disarming and when the plot spends time laughing and snubbing its nose at the stereotypical tropes, the result, especially here, is a fun movie that almost guarantees a good time. At a mere 96-minute run time, The Blackening is the perfect blend of blood and gore, mixed with smart dialogue and well-placed laughs making it not only worth one's time but also succeeding to break down the stereotypical casting of a black person in a horror movie.

I look forward to Perkins and Oliver's future collaboration and I can honestly recommend everyone go see this movie.

Grade: B+

Directed By:
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 96 minutes
Distributed By: Lionsgate

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Purchase The Blackening from the iTunes store.
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For more information about The Blackening visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

The Blackening images are courtesy of Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.


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