THE BLACKENING takes on Black Pop Culture within the horror genre.

For some reason, the trailer for this film rubbed me the wrong way. Though this preview had funny moments, I wasn’t convinced it would deliver genuine laughs and thrills and be as entertaining as I would find it. After watching this movie, I discovered that my trepidations were primarily unfounded, and I enjoyed this exercise in horror/comedy.

The Blackening is a comedic take on the horror trope that the one Black character always dies first. Well, what happens when the entire main cast is Black? A group of close-knit college friends reunites for a fun blow-out party like the ones they used to have back in the day. Some have their reservations and adverse history, but this doesn’t stop them from wanting to get together for one more party. These one-time friends decide to hang out in a cabin in the woods to celebrate Juneteenth.

Despite tension and awkward exchanges, this circle has fun drinking, consuming Molly, and playing spades. However, it becomes evident that this gathering is destined for violence when they discover a strange game room in the house with a racist game known as “The Blackening.” They soon find that someone with access to the house is pulling the strings and is using this assembly to carry out some bizarre racist hunt targeting Black people.

Written by Tracy Oliver and Dewayne Perkins and directed by Tim Story, The Blackening is an entertaining comedy that has fun playing with horror tropes and cliches. I found myself laughing often and very heartily. However, one particular character comes across as a caricature, as opposed to the rest of the players.

As portrayed by Jermaine Fowler, the character of Clifton comes across as a cliche of nerdy Black characters that channel both Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Urkel from Family Matters. Though his character is essential to the story, some of his development and portrayal were not as realistic as the others in the film.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the jokes, the Black pop culture references, and the development of the other characters in the film. Aside from the Clifton character, I truly enjoyed the performances and realizations of the other players in the movie. Two particular actors stand out. One is Dewayne Perkins, who portrays the gay man in the group named Dewayne. His comic timing and improvisation gifts are on full display here, and he shines.

Also hilarious is X Mayo, who portrays the no-nonsense Shanika. She is the character that keeps things the most real and shows her skills in comic timing and improvisation. That is not to say that the other cast members perform poorly. I was mostly pleased with this ensemble, who understood their assignments.

The Blackening is a movie that I very much enjoyed and highly recommend. Fans of horror, comedy, and Black pop culture will surely have a great time.

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