The Vacay Comedy-Horror Joy of ‘The Blackening’ [Guide to the Unknown]
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The Vacay Comedy-Horror Joy of ‘The Blackening’ [Guide to the Unknown]

It’s summer, the temps are climbing, and if you’re anything like me (Kristen) and Will, you’re looking for anything a little breezy, even when it comes to your horror. And boy, does 2022’s The Blackening feel like a breath of fresh air, which is why we’re lucky that a listener suggested we cover it on our podcast, Guide to the Unknown, this week.

The Blackening is a horror-comedy without being a total Scary Movie spoof-fest (no matter what the first Google results tell you), inspired by comedy group 3Peat’s sketch of the same name. It’s actual lol funny, it’s an hour and thirty-seven minutes long, and it just feels like an antidote to the heavy cinematic dreadfests that we also love, but can use a break from sometimes.

The movie operates from a classic premise – friends rent cabin for college reunion/Juneteenth celebration, killer crashes and ruins the party. But the personality that writers Tracy Song and Dewayne Perkins (of 3Peat) infuse into the script turns it into something singular, and the references to horror classics and modern favorites lend it that warm fuzzy feeling of being able to tell that the people who made this really love horror movies.

They also have something to say about the experience of being Black and societal degrees of Blackness, which is also what the original comedy sketch is about. A common horror trope is that the (often lone) Black character is killed first, and since the core ensemble cast of The Blackening is all Black, the tagline, “We can’t all die first,” is explored in different ways that I won’t spoil here.

Will and I decided to make The Blackening a double feature with 2019’s Shudder documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror since we’re two white people with undeniable blind spots. While The Blackening mainly focuses on the “first killed” trope, Horror Noire points out other unfairnesses and dehumanizations that have made their way from real life to the screen. But it also celebrates and re-examines Black horror movies that are meaningful to a lot of people. (Looking at you, Blacula.)

Celebration is definitely a dominant vibe of The Blackening, and it’s that combination of fun, social commentary, and good old-fashioned scary stuff with a twist of goofiness that makes it a great watch. We definitely recommend cranking the AC and putting this one on…or bringing it out to your cabin and keeping your fingers crossed.

For way more about The Blackening, check out this week’s episode and subscribe to Guide to the Unknown on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts to get a new episode every Friday.

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