“The Blackening” (Lionsgate)
By OSV News
Brilliant comic riff on what constitutes authentic African American identity. In adapting the eponymous 2018 sketch by the comedy troupe 3Peat, director Tim Story and screenwriters Tracy Oliver and Dewayne Perkins use the familiar structure of a horror flick as a framing device, reuniting a group of college friends at a remote house in the woods to celebrate Juneteenth. They’re visited by a couple of mysterious figures with murderous intent and in the basement they find a creepy board game with a caricatured Sambo face that barks harsh, difficult questions about Black culture and history.
Rather than fully developed individuals, the characters (played by Perkins, Grace Byers, Melvin Gregg, Sinqua Walls, Antoinette Robertson, X Mayo and Jermaine Fowler) are instead quickly limned stereotypes designed as vessels for rapid-fire quips. As with all satire based on in-jokes, the effectiveness of the humor is uneven. Yet the script generally brings sharp wit to bear on the issues and topics it explores and there’s obvious deep affection underlying the way in which the female pals express sisterhood telepathically.
Physical violence played for laughs, fleeting gore, offscreen casual sexual activity, racial slurs, mature references, including to homosexuality, frequent rough and crude language. The OSV News classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.