Hope is the First to Go: Intriguing Premise Can’t Sustain “The Blackening”

This movie was staid when it should have slayed. An intriguing premise devolves into just a bunch of running scared in Tim Story’s horror satire The Blackening (D). The film follows a group of Black friends on a Juneteenth holiday weekend who encounter masked murderers while staying at a cabin in the woods. At the film’s core is a mysterious board game that turns players against one another in a type of racial roulette, but most of the plot is just actors running from room to room screaming. Grace Byers and Melvin Gregg are among the accomplished standouts in the ensemble. Among those who stand out for all the wrong reasons, Jermaine Fowler gives a stupendously misguided performance, jawdropping in its caricature. Story shows scant skill in helming this type of horror movie, with no cleverness to the kills or pacing for the scares. There’s more mystery and suspense in any given Scooby-Doo episode. What could have been a sly play on tropes or an intellectual dissection of the role race plays in these kinds of movies is largely squandered. In terms of dignity of daring, nobody gets out of this one alive.

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