Some of the hoarier conventions of the horror movie are given a thorough skewering (literally: crossbow bolts figure heavily in the action) in this acute and very funny satire. A time-worn slasher premise – a group of former college friends reunite in an isolated cabin in the woods for a weekend of committed partying and card-playing – is viewed through a Black lens that comprehensively mocks the tired tropes of the genre. If, for example, it’s traditionally the person of colour that dies first in a horror ensemble cast, what happens when all the characters are Black?
It’s the kind of question that the Scary Movie franchise would tackle with all the subtlety of a chainsaw and the Scream movies would address by tying themselves into smirking, self-referential knots. But The Blackening makes light work of its themes, bringing a breezy wit and satisfying depth of character to the game. Horror purists might find the picture lacking in genuine scares, but go into it expecting a hang-out comedy with a few jumps rather than a horror movie with a few jokes, and it’s unlikely to disappoint.