The Blackening parents guide

The Blackening Parent Guide

A compelling premise doesn't stand up to bad dialogue, violence, and excessive profanity.

Overall D

Theaters: A group of friends are forced to play a racist board game or one of their pals is going to die.

Release date June 16, 2023

Violence D
Sexual Content C
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is The Blackening rated R? The MPAA rated The Blackening R for pervasive language, violence and drug use

Run Time: 96 minutes

Parent Movie Review

With a big college reunion planned, friends Lisa, Dewayne, and Nmadi (Antoinette Robertson, Dewayne Perkins, and Sinqua Walls) are spending the weekend out at a cute little cabin in the woods. They’re meeting up with more old college buddies, King (Melvin Gregg), Shanika (X Mayo), Allison (Grace Byers), Morgan (Yvonne Orji), Shawn (Jay Pharoah), and Clifton (Jermaine Fowler). Morgan and Shawn arrived but left a note for the others that they’d be back later in the evening, and to get partying without them – instructions the rest of the group are happy to follow.

The friends soon find a specially labelled “Game Room”, which sounds fun – until the door locks behind them. Inside is a cartoonishly racist board game called “The Blackening”, complete with a talking minstrel head that gives them instructions. Worse yet, the head knows everyone’s name, and more besides. Chillingly, it reveals that Shawn and Morgan aren’t out shopping. Shawn is dead, and Morgan is a hostage. If the survivors fail to play the game, she will die. But playing along with whoever designed this little board game of horrors might not be a good idea either…

The Blackening is an extremely mixed bag. The social satire and racial commentary are interesting and nuanced, and the film does an excellent job of exploring racialized tropes in horror films. The rest of the movie, on the other hand, is seriously wanting. Casual dialogue ranges from average to dreadful (much to the delight of the viewers sitting behind me, but likely not to the enjoyment of anybody in full command of their mental faculties). The film is also very, well, dark, and I’m not speaking metaphorically here. Almost every shot is seriously under-lit, making it difficult to follow the action and annoying to try and take notes in the theater (more my problem than yours). As if to compensate, there’s some truly gnarly lens flare on some of the light sources which even J.J. Abrams would have removed. It’s messy at best.

This production is a hard sell for sensitive audiences, particularly in the profanity department. We’re clocking more f-bombs than minutes here, and that’s without counting any of the other cussing. There’s also some heavy drinking, MDMA use, and graphic violence, which you might have expected from the genre. I was prepared for the profanity, I was prepared for the violence, and I was expecting to have a really good time with the concept – and I did. I just kept getting dragged right back out of that enjoyment by the sloppy filmmaking and inconsistent writing. The real surprise here is that, considering that director Tim Story also directed the cinematic abomination Tom and Jerry, is that any part of this film is compelling. Baby steps, I suppose.

Directed by Tim Story. Starring Antoinette Robertson, Dewayne Perkins, Sinqua Walls. Running time: 96 minutes. Theatrical release June 16, 2023. Updated

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The Blackening
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Blackening rated R? The Blackening is rated R by the MPAA for pervasive language, violence and drug use

Violence: People are shot, stabbed, and impaled with arrows. Several people are punched or struck. A person’s head is beaten in with a blunt object.
Sexual Content: There are several crude and graphic sexual remarks. A couple are seen kissing passionately. A man dances in his underwear.
Profanity: The script contains 104 sexual expletives, 40 scatological curses, and frequent use of mild curses and terms of deity. Racial slurs are heard multiple times.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking and taking drugs including MDMA, Vicodin, and Adderall. There are references to marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms.

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Other horror films which explore elements of race include Get Out, Us, Candyman, His House, Black Box, and Ma.