Lionsgate appropriately set a release date for The Blackening on June 16, 2023, the Juneteenth weekend. The horror comedy is based on the beloved sketch of the same name by Comedy Central.
In the original sketch, a group of Black friends finds themselves in a cabin in the woods when a serial killer strikes. Everyone knows the first person to die in a horror movie is the Black character, but since there are only people of color in the cabin, the serial killer makes them decide who’s the Blackest of them all. So, each friend tries to convince the others they are not Black by listing all the racial stereotypes that don’t apply to them. The short was written by Dewayne Perkins, who also signed the movie’s script alongside Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip, First Wives Club). The film is directed by Tim Story (Tom & Jerry).
We haven’t seen much of The Blackening adaptation yet, and the teaser that reveals the movie’s release date only has a few frames of an old TV playing black-and-white footage. Still, the movie’s official synopsis reveals the feature will stick close to the short, expanding on the wacky concept to show how racial stereotypes don’t reflect reality.
Besides co-writing The Blackening, Perkins also stars in the movie. The Blackening‘s cast also includes Grace Byers (Harlem, Empire), Jermaine Fowler (Coming 2 America, Judas and the Black Messiah), Melvin Gregg (Nine Perfect Strangers, The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Jay Pharoah (SNL, Resort to Love), Yvonne Orji (Insecure, Vacation Friends), Antoinette Robertson (Dear White People), X Mayo (The Good Doctor, The Farewell), and Sinqua Walls (Resort to Love, American Soul).
How does ‘The Blackening’ Fights Against Cinema Tropes?
While The Blackening focuses on racial stereotypes to discuss racism, the movie will also double down on cinema tropes to expose how the Hollywood industry treats certain characters differently. In an exclusive interview with Collider’s own Steve Weintraub, star and writer Perkins told us:
“The intent was to take tropes and then expand them to force the audience to realize tropes are also human beings. My character is a ‘gay best friend,’ which is a trope that is in movies. Usually, they’re [‘gay best friends’] regulated to the side to be a person who gives humor, or they are part of a joke. So being able to take these tropes and find exactly what makes them complex, what gives them depth, and then forcing that in the movie so that when you start watching it, you see what has been in horror movies before and then the goal of the movie is to constantly break down your assumptions of these characters by constantly forcing depth.”
The Blackening comes to theaters on June 16, 2023.
The Blackening centers around a group of Black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway only to find themselves trapped in a remote cabin with a twisted killer. Forced to play by his rules, the friends soon realize this ain’t no motherf****** game. The Blackening skewers genre tropes and poses the sardonic question: if the entire cast of a horror movie is Black, who dies first?