The Blackening

15 Blu-ray, DVD

It has been said for a number of years by cultural commentators that black characters get a raw deal in horror films, as they’re often the first to get killed off. And they’re not wrong.

This film is an attempt to address this scenario, featuring a predominantly black cast as they go on a trip they’ll never forget.

boom reviews The Blackening
Oh shit, there's only one black person in the audience...

To celebrate their ten year college reunion, a group of friends decide to party in a remote cabin in the woods. They’re looking forward to taking some drugs, play some games and catch up on old times.

But despite knowing what happens to those from the black community who go out into the woods – in films at least – they’re confident it doesn’t happen to them. But it does.

boom reviews The Blackening
Excuse me, was the TV remote supposed to do this?!

This was the perfect opportunity to lean into the whole notion of black characters being early victims in horror films, which it does to a certain extent, but not nearly enough. In fact, what it ultimately does is lean the other way, into what is a generic group-in-the-woods plot. So in trying to tackle these stereotypes, it just reinforces others in a fairly lazy fashion.

It starts off brightly enough, being quite bold and self aware, but the script soon gets very loose and what originality it had is soon lost in an unsatisfying feature that lacks depth on the horror front and humour all round.

And although director Tim Story has had some success with comedy titles such as Barbershop and the Ride Along films in the past, there’s no edge to the humour, in any sense, which was vital here. And the horror aspect is embarrassingly generic, lacking any real threat whatsoever. The fact that so many of the cast survive doesn’t help, so with no comedy and no fear factor- after all there’s nothing more disappointing than a horror with the kind of body count you would find in Barbie, which with all that pink is far more horrifying - what’s left is a premise that might have worked as a sketch on the likes of Saturday Night Live, but outstays its welcome very quickly on the big screen.

The relatively unknown cast do their best, but with the poor material they have to work with, they don’t do themselves or the audience any favours.

It would have possibly been more successful if it went the route of something like Scary Movie, parodying a number of other horror franchises. But as it hangs everything on the one basic premise, once it shows its hand, it’s literally got nothing left to give.

So what could have been a piece of biting cultural satire, ends up being like one of the black characters the film attempts to spoof – quickly forgettable.

we give this two out of five