The Blackening movie poster

The Blackening

In theaters June 16, 2023



96 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , , , , , ,

The original animated Disney films. E.T., Roald Dahl books. Some things are better left untouched. In this case it’s the 2018 Comedy Central sketch The Blackening that would have been better left a viral gem rather than being adapted into a feature length film.

Reuniting for their 10-year reunion from college, The Blackening follows a group of college friends getting together in a remote cabin in the woods to celebrate Juneteenth weekend over drugs, drinks, and spades. All is well until they “stumble” upon the board game, The Blackening, and are forced to play by a Jigsaw-like killer. Their first task? Select who is the blackest and he or she will be the first to die. The selection of the victim mirrors the original sketch and is where The Blackening is its funniest which makes sense why the remaining 70 or some minutes tend to go off the rails. The cast overall is solid, led by strong performances by Saturday Night Live alum, Jay Pharoah, and, X Mayo, who is part of the much funnier NBC comedy American Auto, but it’s journeyman actor, Jermaine Fowler, who steals every scene he is in.

Credit co-writers, Dewayne Perkins, the original writer of the four-minute sketch, and Tracy Oliver, one of the writers of Girls Trip, for attempting to turn a hilarious sketch into an equally uproarious 96-minute horror comedy but struggle to find the right balance. So much so that it’s difficult to discern whether the writers were attempting to be more like Scream or the Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie. Seemingly stealing from numerous horror films including Escape Room, Saw, and even A Cabin in the Woods, it would seemingly be the Scream franchise, but with a tagline of “We Can’t All Die First,” it then feels as if they were aiming more for a humorous homage to horror films of the past. To whichever it owes it roots, The Blackening fails to land enough laughs to be a good comedy nor enough scares to be a solid horror film.

Perkins recently shared that The Blackening is a “film created for the people who talk to the screen,” but with the film choosing to also open on Juneteenth weekend, the African American community deserves a film far better than this to celebrate their emancipation. Here’s to a movie like Black Panther, Hidden Figures, or even Coming to America better honoring the achievements made over the last 160 years.

The Blackening is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day. Still reeling from his unpaid gig for the Detroit News where he was fired for being too cruel with his American Idol recaps, Mark is thrilled to be sharing his wicked sense of humor with Movie Reelists.

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