A young mother, crushed by guilt after the disappearance of her young son 5 years previously, is presented with a bizarre offer to learn the truth and set things right. But how far is she willing to go, and is she willing to pay the terrifying price for a chance to hold her boy again? Starring Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect), Jennifer Lafleur (Nope) and John Ales (Euphoria).
From Black is directed by Thomas Marchese who is also the film’s co-writer with Jessub Flower. From Black is Marchese’s second feature film, the first being an award-winning police documentary. From Black is most certainly a strange beast. There were definitely some strong horror elements holding the story together but the pacing—unfortunately—missed the mark.
The first acts fall short, failing to build much tension or to bring necessary likability to the main cast. The last act, however, delivers a solid crescendo of magic, madness and mayhem mixed with solid CGI and special effects. It’s a terrific climax to an otherwise mediocre experience.
The score was chilling and wonderfully eerie but also reminiscent of current trends as I felt I’d heard much of it before. That does not detract from how good it was though; it felt both tribal and gothic at once, almost shamanic at times.
I did like the themes brought forth in the film—old magic and inexplicable creatures are elements of horror that tickle my fancy. There were also a lot of biblical metaphors. Names like Noah & Able, images of the wheat and the chaff, the trinity of sacrifices, the eating of the body, parallels to certain parables, the drinking of the blood, the resurrection of the flesh…the list is extensive and most of it welcome and pretty clever.
It was, however, too little too late. The film’s “twists” were rather predictable and the lack of relatability (or likability) of the characters didn’t help. I didn’t mind so much that the creature or its powers weren’t very well explained as a bit of mystery can be healthy, but it did strike me as odd that “the rules” were sometimes bendable and other times immutable—I want consistency in my occult practices, dammit!
The film feels a little like Hellraiser-light, something in the same vein but without the punch. It takes too long to find its feet but when it does, it delivers a healthy serving of predictable but palatable possessions, apparitions, and sacrifices. From Black premieres on Friday, April 28th on Shudder. The trailer and poster art are posted below. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid.
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