The expression “this is for the culture” is something that when uttered by someone in the Black community holds a lot of responsibility if you will. This is something that is both a reflection and a representative of the Black experience, the African-American diaspora even. Things such as the OLD and ORIGINAL BET (not even the potential new Tyler Perry one), 90’s Thursday nights on FOX, and a few others. All of that is a long way to say that I extremely loved The Blackening

Melvin Gregg as King, Grace Byers as Allison, Antoinette Robertson as Lisa, Sinqua Walls as Nnamdi, Jermaine Fowler as Clifton, Dewayne Perkins as Dewayne, and Xochitl Mayo as Shanika in The Blackening. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson

The Blackening is for the culture and absolutely IS the culture. It is what Black people talk about in our conversations about if we were in a horror situation, watching all the things we have seen white people do, we know what not to do. As a stand up comedian I myself even have a joke that says I treat horror movies as study guides; everything white people do, I know what not to do. And this movie does all that and it plays into it hilariously, top to bottom. 

The cast of this movie makes it all possible and their chemistry is felt throughout this movie. Being actual friends and acquaintances with members of the cast and seeing them be able to shine was such a treat. Dewayne Perkins shines as a star throughout the film, Jermaine Fowler shines, James Preston Rogers, Yvonne Orji, they all shine brightly. This is not to take away from any other member of the cast by ANY MEANS. Grace Byers, Melvin Gregg, Sinqua Walls, X Mayo, Antoinette Robinson, and Jay Pharoah all deliver top-notch performances. 

Yvonne Orji as Morgan and Jay Pharaoh as Shawn in The Blackening. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson

To watch this blossom from what started as a five minute sketch put together by the incredible sketch group 3Peat (Chicago all day) to this full length film is outstanding. The scenarios – yes, many of which were shown in the trailer as well as some of the jokes – still hit just as hard as if you had not seen or heard them previously. I was fortunate to be in a theater full of Black people, which I honestly have to say is the best way to see this movie. I love my people. Now, granted, there were some non-Black folks, some non-melanated individuals. And so I knew this was going to be interesting to watch their experience, watching a bunch of Black people’s experience. 

Now for many of you all who don’t understand why it would be an interesting experience to watch… When we, a collection of Black people are in a theater, if we enjoy something, we are going to enjoy it all the way. We going to laugh, scream, go “AW HELL NAH!!”, “don’t you do that”, etc. etc. So it was going to be interesting to see how those who may not be used to the experience deal with those moments. I won’t keep you guessing of how it turned out. In the end they all had the same reactions and enjoyment we did in the theater. 

Antoinette Robertson as Lisa, Grace Byers as Allison, Jermaine Fowler as Clifton and Dewayne Perkins as Dewayne in The Blackening. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson

If you’ve never played URBAN TRIVIA, BLACK CARD REVOKED, or other games where you have to question your Blackness as a Black person, The Blackening will ask so many questions that will really make you think. The number one question for me was “how many seasons was dark skinned Aunt Viv, played by Queen Janet Hubert, in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?” If you are like me I found myself during the film puzzled and questioning myself. I started trying to do television long division almost… ”If you carry the two and divide by when light skin Aunt Viv came in which was I think around baby Nicky’s Christening….” But this still allows loads of fun.

Antoinette Robertson as Lisa and Sinqua Walls as Nnamdi in The Blackening. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson

Even the tagline “We all can’t die first”’ allows for so much tension to build up throughout so many scenarios. Ones where you never know who will be killed first, who will survive, or who is the culprit all in the midst of the hilarity within this movie. There are so many twists and turns that in the end you will find yourself wanting to visit this one again and again. 

It is also now nice to have a potential Juneteenth classic film for the culture. However time will tell if this is brought back into the cultural zeitgeist for even more than just the holiday celebrating the freedom of the final slaves in Galveston, Texas in 1865. Nonetheless, make sure you support this as much as possible. Tell your friends, your friends’ friends, family, and everyone. This is one to enjoy and have a great time, and to get a little more in tune with the culture.

The Blackening premiered in theaters June 16.