Who dies first in a horror film if all the characters are black? Morgan (Yvonne Orji) and Shawn (Jay Pharoah) are preparing for a reunion after ten years with all their college friends for Juneteenth in a creepy
cabin house in the woods when they stumble upon a strange game room as they decorate and prepare for the weekend-long party. They find a game called “The Blackening,” and when they uncover it, they see a Sambo-looking dude asking if they want to play a game – a trivia game about black history and culture.
The next day, the remaining friends arrive, Lisa (Antionette Robertson), Dewayne (Dewayne Perkins), Nnamdi (Sinqua Walls), Allison (Grace Byers), Shanika (X Mayo), King (Melvin Gregg), and the awkwardly random Clifton (Jermaine Fowler). The dynamics are tense due to the history between them and the shifting relationships. Morgan and Shawn appear to be gone so they start partying and playing spades to pass the time. The friends who don’t remember Clifton begin questioning why he was invited. The lights go out, and they discover the game room while looking for the fuse box. They answer all the trivia questions correctly and think they’re in the clear, but then they answer incorrectly, and the horror starts.
The film was based on the premise that black characters always die first or never survive in horror films. I am not typically a horror film watcher at all, but I do enjoy a good horror parody film. When I was reading about the Blackening, there were comparisons to the Wayans’ Scary Movie franchise, so I decided to give it a go. The film leaned hard into the established tropes of the slasher-horror genre, which I did expect because this was a comedy. However, it did lead to a predictable film. There was heavy use of jump scares, and the mastermind was apparent from the beginning. The predictability was expected, so that doesn’t impact my rating.
Now, for the comedy. I am not the target demographic, but I found most jokes hilarious. I just wanted more of them! I loved the satire that incorporated stereotypes and entertainingly addressed them. The film also did not stop to explain anything, so if you didn’t get a reference, you’d have to figure it out yourself. I liked this aspect of the film, but I don’t know how that’ll fare with international audiences.
Where to Watch
I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.