In Tim Story’s The Blackening, seven friends get trapped in a cabin with a killer who has threatened to kill them. As the killer makes them play games and decide who the Blackest among them is to see who should die first (you know, because of the trope in horror films where the black character dies first), Story’s story leads to funny shenanigans and conversations about what it means to be Blackness. The film is scary and funny; and it was so much fun seeing it with the Midnight Madness audience during last year’s TIFF. (For example, a woman on my row let out a loud scream at some point.)
Based on a 3Peat Comedy sketch of the same name, Dewayne Perkins (who co-wrote the film with Tracy Oliver) mentions that the most challenging things about writing Blackening was making it longer. And I think they did a solid job of making the short skit stand on its own as a feature-length movie. The Blackening plays on quite a few horror tropes, like walking towards the weird sound instead of away, splitting up to cover more ground when your lives are in danger, going to a secluded cabin in the woods in the first place.
More importantly though, it plays on stereotypes about Black people relating to those horror tropes, as they are all very different people from each other but are, in fact, still black. (These conversations also come up through the questions in the game play.) It highlights the idea of identity, and whether our actions and thoughts are truly determined by things like skin colour. That said, it is truly the perfect blend of scary and hilarious. All the actors do comedy so well, and I’m honestly just looking forward to seeing it again.
The Blackening is in theatres on Friday, June 16th, 2023.