Kristen “KD” Dávila (“Motherland: Fort Salem” TV Series) wrote the short film Emergency and Carey Williams (R#J) directed, going on to win the Best Narrative Short at SXSW 2018. The feature-length adaptation by Williams and Dávila premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The Texas premiere of the film was held at the SXSW 2022 Film Festival in Austin in the Festival Favorites category.

At a college two student roommates are talking about the end of semester, partying and making college history with the things they plan to do later that evening. Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins, “The Underground Railroad” TV Miniseries, Free State of Jones) is a very serious student in a button up shirt and his buddy Sean (RJ Cyler, R#J, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), both Black, has seen the rougher side of life through his/family experiences. When returning home from campus to prepare for their night of party hopping, they find the door ajar and are upset at their third roommate, Carlos (Sebastian Chacon, “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” and “Narcos” TV Series), for being involved in his videogame and not responsible for locking up safely. To their dismay, they find an unknown young white female they nickname Goldilocks (Maddie Nichols as Emma) passed out on the living room floor. Their indecision and decisions throughout the evening is what the audience views in this comedy, drama, thriller for an hour and 45 minutes.

To call or not to call 911 becomes a heated point of contention among the roommates. Sean knows, from what he has learned, is that people of color will likely become prime suspects, even when they are telling the truth/trying to help, with a high possibility of being shot by police without justification (as has been seen in our society across the nation). When this discussion is occurring on screen, the viewer will see the depth of the screenplay and how this is not just another story about partying on campus or otherwise.

They jump into Sean’s van with plans to do good, but what should have been a ten-minute ride is anything but that. The situations they find themselves in begin to unfold very similar to what Sean predicted. They pull over in a neighborhood to check on a damaged taillight and find themselves confronted by middle-aged homeowners who are ready to call the police, phone in hand. As the camera shows them returning to their home, a Black Lives Matter sign is displayed prominently in the yard. This idea and camerawork by cinematographer Michael Dallatorre (“Brightburn”) are brilliant. The change from party lights to deep woods darkness also speaks volumes as to the difference between what the characters go through.

Emma’s sister Maddie (Sabrina Carpenter) is frantically looking for her younger sister and has two friends help her, Alice (Madison Thompson, “Ozark” TV Series) and Rafael (Diego Abraham, “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” TV Series). The scene of Maddie being unfriendly to Rafael is bad enough, but when she discovers that he is Carlos’ family member, her reaction about his ethnicity is worse.
The three track the van via Emma’s cell phone. Maddie’s call to 911 is what sets the worse in motion, despite Kunle’s best efforts to help. The close shot of Kunle’s eyes when they arrive for help is one that I will not soon forget. His performance is superb and the chemistry with Sean is great.

This is a film that should be viewed. “Emergency” has a solid script about the current society, despite what some folks do not see around them.

Emergency debuts on Amazon Prime Video May 27th after opening

May 19 in select U.S. theaters.

Source: Amazon Prime Video, SXSW

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