I’ve liked quite a few of the Blumhouse films and learning that Amazon Prime and they have teamed up to offer double features for October, made me want to check out one of their films in the selection, Black as Night. Not only does it have vampires in New Orleans but Keith David is in it. I cannot resist any film that he is in. While it lacked a true scare factor, the story was entertaining, the characters interesting, and offered a different take on vampires.
Black as Night aka Welcome to the Blumhouse: Black as Night is a horror film directed by Maritte Lee Go and written by Sherman Payne. In the film a young girl, Shawna (Asjha Cooper) with self esteem issues finds confidence in the most unlikely way, by battling vampires that prey on New Orleans disenfranchised along with her best friend Pedro (Fabrizio Guido), the boy she’s always pined for, Chris (Mason Beauchamp) , and a strange white girl (Abbie Gayle). Shawna is determined to avenge herself on the leader of the vampires (Keith David) who turned her mother into a vampire only for her to die. But with a massive gang of vampires, will Shawna and her friends be able to succeed?
One of the best features of the film is the Buffy style that permeates every scene that Shawna is in. While she does not have super strength or agility, it gives an African American perspective on vampires with the female empowerment of Buffy and I think in some ways done better as Shawna battles her own self esteem issues to emerge with confidence despite losses in her life. Her family is loving and supportive, even when they don’t know what she is up to and her friends care about her. As a main protagonist, she is equal to Buffy and as engaging.
One of the other pieces that makes this film successful for me, is the twist on the vampires. There are aspects to them that are explored in this movie that I’ve never seen elsewhere, including an idea I don’t want to spoil. While they aren’t as scary as other movies, the idea of an army of vampires created from the disenfranchised is, especially those that have been downtrodden and no longer have anything to lose in wiping out humanity. It makes for an interesting premise and is successfully carried out, especially with Keith David as the leader.
This leads us to the other reason I think this film is so interesting, the performances. Keith David is subtle, powerful and incredible. Asjha Cooper is emotional, impactful and carries the lead role well, especially as she navigates the losses in the character’s life and her own struggles with self esteem. Fabrizio Guido is believable as Pedro and Mason Beauchamp is likeable as is Abbie Gayle. The characters are engaging which is due to the excellent performances from the young actors. I hope to see them in more films.
One of my biggest issues, though, is despite the twist on the vampires, there is no real scare factor. Partly this is because there is very little that is surprising or unpredictable in the movie. Most of the premise is set up in the first two minutes of the film and there are no surprises from that moment on. While the story is still entertaining with engaging characters, I wasn’t that scared.
Still, if you love Keith David and you like movies about vampires, I do recommend this one. It is interesting, it has a different approach to the vampires along with some compelling discussion around the homeless across the country. If you like films that make you think, even in your horror, this one’s for you. And the acting is superb. I really enjoyed both the young actors as well as Keith David. I also recommend checking out the rest of the “Welcome to Blumhouse” films. Bingo Hell and Black as Night release on Amazon Prime on October 1st while Madres and The Manor release on October 8th. It is a neat concept, returning us to the old style double feature film but streaming. I certainly will be checking out the rest of the films that Blumhouse will be offering.
Rating: 3 out of 5 vampires.
A resourceful teenage girl leaves childhood behind when she battles a group of deadly vampires in BLACK AS NIGHT, an action-horror hybrid with a strong social conscience and a biting sense of humor. Fifteen years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, a new threat leaves its mark on the Big Easy in the form of puncture wounds on the throats of the city’s vulnerable displaced population. When her drug-addicted mom becomes the latest victim of the undead, 15-year old Shawna (Asjha Cooper) vows to even the score. BLACK AS NIGHT is directed by Maritte Lee Go (PHOBIAS, RISE) from a screenplay by Sherman Payne (SCREAM: THE TV SERIES, CHARM CITY KINGS). The film stars Asjha Cooper (ALL AMERICAN, CHICAGO MED), Fabrizio Guido (WORLD WAR Z, MR. IGLESIAS), Mason Beauchamp (EAT BRAINS LOVE, FILTHY RICH), Frankie Smith (MUDBOUND, JEEPERS CREEPERS 3), Abbie Gayle (LITTLE, LOOKING FOR ALASKA), Craig Tate (12 YEARS A SLAVE, GREYHOUND) and Keith David (THE THING, THEY LIVE). Executive producers are Jason Blum (GET OUT, THE INVISIBLE MAN), Jeremy Gold (THE PURGE, BLACK BOX), Marci Wiseman (SHARP OBJECTS, INTO THE DARK), Lisa Bruce (THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, DARKEST HOUR), Maggie Malina (HIT THE FLOOR, SCREAM: THE TV SERIES) and Guy Stodel (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, FRIDAY THE 13th). The film is produced by John Brister (IN ENEMY HANDS, BLACK BOX).
ONE-LINER: A resourceful teenage girl driven by revenge, alongside her trusted friends, spends her summer battling vampires terrorizing her city of New Orleans. BLACK AS NIGHT is now playing on Amazon Prime Video.