Every holiday deserves its own slasher, and the new horror comedy The Blackening delivers just that for Juneteenth, a hilarious genre twist that nails a balance of scares and laughs that is a perfect Scream for the Jordan Peele era.
The film follows a group of Black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway in a remote cabin, only to find themselves trapped with a masked killer (wearing a blackface mask), who forces them to play game with deadly consequences.
There are meta references to genre classics Blade, The People Under the Stairs, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as well as comedies like Living Single, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and even Friends, among others.
Going where no other slasher has ever gone, The Blackening dares to ask the question: If the whole cast of a horror movie is Black, who dies first? It’s a bold setup, and director Tim Story (Ride Along, Think Like A Man, Barbershop) succeeds in creating an irreverent tone that feels fresh, working from a tight and timely screenplay by Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip, Harlem) and Dewayne Perkins (The Amber Ruffin Show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), who also co-stars in the film.
The ensemble cast includes Yvonne Orji (Insecure), Jay Pharoah (SNL), Antoinette Robertson (Dear White People), Sinqua Walls (Power, White Men Can’t Jump), Grace Byers (Empire, Harlem), X Mayo, Melvin Gregg (Snowfall), and Jermaine Fowler (Coming 2 America), all of which give believable performances that paint the characters like actual friends and loved ones, who bicker and argue as much as they love and fight for each other. Their chemistry is excellent.
There are numerous laugh-out-loud moments, but it never strays into Scary Movie-style slapstick, maintaining a building tension as the game’s time constraints keep the clock always ticking.
With its sharp and timely social commentary and likeable characters, I have no doubt The Blackening will be revisited by horror fans annually around Juneteenth in the same way we watch our favorite Halloween movies every October.
The Blackening is now playing in theaters.
You can watch our exclusive roundtable interview with The Blackening cast, writers, and director below.
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