Review/ The Blackening

June 27, 2023

I’ve been waiting for the release of this film for a good long minute, and I FINALLY got the chance to see it last weekend. And it ended up exceeding my expectations. The Blackening is hands down one of my favorite movies of the year so far, and I definitely see it staying high up there.

A group of Black friends reunites for a close friend’s college reunion to celebrate Juneteenth at a house in the woods. While each has their own bonds and tension while adjusting to some changes between them, they find themselves caught in the sadistic game concocted by a killer set to take them out and torture them through questions pertaining to their Blackness. I found myself cracking up out loud throughout the movie, but what surprised me was that even past the jokes, the movie was still quite a horror film.

Antoinette Robertson as Lisa in The Blackening. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson

I was expecting something a little like Scary Movie, this being a satire of Black people in horror. Something extremely silly, ridiculous, and dumbly over-the-top. While the first initial Scary Movies were fun, I’m glad this film – even as a satire – went their own original and creative way. Instead, here we had a great blend of a legitimate horror movie filled with Black people of different varieties trying to survive while cracking us up in the process.

The cast is led by Antoinette Robertson (Lisa, the attorney and loving friend in a secret relationship with her ex), Dewayne Perkins (Dewayne, that ride-or-die friend who loves hard and feels even more, hurt when you continually make dumb decisions), Sinqua Walls (Nnamdi, the stud and former fuck boy trying to turn a new leaf), Grace Byers (Allison, the biracial friend who gets joked on for being half Black and half white yet is conscious on many Black issues and culture), X Mayo (Shanika, the rambunctious, no filtered but honest friend), Melvin Gregg (King, the former hot head and “thug” of the group who is reformed, self-conscious and is married to a white woman) and Jermaine Fowler (Clifton, the outsider of the group who is trying to fit in with the core group), work extremely well with each other, bouncing off each others’ dialogue, jokes, and being each others’ strengths during all the mayhem.

Grace Byers as Allison in The Blackening. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson

One thing I want to give this film major props for is that the majority of the decisions these characters made were smart. Oftentimes we, as Black folk joke about dumb decisions white characters make in horror films. In here, instead of investigating what caused that strange noise outside, we’re stopping, looking at the door opening to see if some shit bout to pop off while grabbing a weapon, and then rushing to close and lock said door.

My favorite thing about the movie were the different moments of social commentary pertaining to Blackness and how it can both reinforce bonds between different types of Black people but at the same time it can be used against other types of Black people who are just trying to fit in with their common folk. The social issues of having one’s Blackness revoked due to not knowing how to play a game or due to being biracial may seem small to some folks, but it has deep ramifications for others, and this movie finds clever ways to address it without coming off as forced or preachy.

Tim Story of Barbershop and Think Like a Man has put together a fantastic movie with writers Tracy Oliver and Dewayne Perkins, the latter who also plays one of the main core characters who is gay and represents a Black queer character who is actually quite uncommon in horror as a main lead caught up in the horror and not used as a joke or early victim.

Anyways… go see the shit or have your Black card revoked!

Greg Anderson Elysée is a Brooklyn-born Haitian-American writer, educator, filmmaker, personal trainer, and model. Elysée previously wrote for, where he ran his own column, (Heard It Thru) The Griotvine, showcasing independent creators of color and LGBTQ creators, as well as writing for Bleeding Cool.

Elysée’s original comic series “Is’nana the Were-Spider” is a seven-time Glyph Award Winner.

His other work includes “Akim Aliu: Dreamer: Growing Up Black in the World of Hockey,” published by Scholastic Inc. and Kaepernick Publishing, “OneNation: Stronghold,” published by 133art Publishing, “I Dream of Home” in the Lion Forge graphic novel collection and Eisner Award-winning “Puerto Rico Strong,” and “Tyrone and Jamal” in the GLAAD Award-winning “Young Men in Love.” He lives in Brooklyn.

Article Topics: horror movie | The Blackening

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