Rob Reviews "The Blackening"
Tim Story is a director that I have had issue coming back around on since Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. As bad as that film was on multiple levels (as a HUGE Silver Surfer fan, don’t get me started), reading that he turned Galactus basically into a black hole was because he “didn’t put robots in his films” was enough to drive me to the edge. I appreciated the Ride Along films as well as the 2019 version of Shaft, but I still could not get past that absolute gaff of a concept (and just so we are clear, he did BOTH Fantastic Four films). With all of that, finding out that he directed The Blackening made me wonder if he could turn it all around for me based on the trailers I had seen.
In The Blackening, a group of college friends get together for a “friend reunion” over the Juneteenth holiday at a house in the woods, hoping to reconnect on a number of levels overall. Upon the discovery of a game room, they find a board game called “The Blackening” and find out that they must play it literally to survive.
This cast is full of relative unknowns, but they all stood out to me for different reasons. This is truly an ensemble film with the only really established names being Diedrich Bader and Jay Pharoah who only have very small roles. I cannot say that there is any one actor that I enjoyed over the others so I will simply shout out all of them in Antoinette Robertson as “Lisa,” Dewayne Perkins as “Dewayne,” Sinqua Walls as “Nnamdi,” Grace Byers as “Allison,” X Mayo as “Shanika,” Melvin Gregg as “King,” Jermaine Fowler as “Clifton,” and Yvonne Orji as “Morgan”. They all have bright futures ahead of them, and I look forward to seeing it.
From a story standpoint, this film could have easily collapsed under its own premise, but it really doesn’t. The only way I can truly describe it is the kind of film that is a fresh take on the Scream franchise that ups the comedy level and downplays the gore. Granted, there IS an amount of violence and a dash of light gore, but it’s “R” rating is more from its use of foul language than anything else. The Blackening does something that a lot of films like it have not been able to do in walking the line between comedy and parody without going too far to the point where it becomes a clone of the Scary Movie franchise. It has a sense of self-awareness to it where the characters understand the rules of the game but also get the stakes of their situation and are able to convey those stakes to the audience.
I truly hope this film gets the recognition it deserves from a larger audience, even if it becomes a darling via streaming. I would prefer to see it get there at the box office, but no matter how you watch this film if it is your cup of tea (which it kind of needs to be), but any way you can check out The Blackening, do so. Is it good enough for me to completely forgive Tim Story? Not yet, but it is a solid start in the right direction.