Tag Archives: Sebastian Chacon

Thinning the Herd


by Hope Madden

When Brandon Cronenberg decided to be a filmmaker—one keenly interested in corporeal horror—it felt both natural and brave. Natural because his father David is perhaps the all-time master of body horror. Brave for the same reason.

It turns out, Brandon Cronenberg is a natural. (If you haven’t, you should definitely see his films.) But the family affair doesn’t end with him. Daughter Caitlin Cronenberg’s feature debut Humane sets her slightly apart from the fellas, though.

Written by Michael Sparaga, Humane takes place in a near future where climate catastrophe requires that each country on earth purge itself of 20% of its population. A euthanasia program allows citizens to enlist, helping the nation reach its quota, helping the planet survive, and providing government funds to the family bereaved. But with numbers lower than expected, the nation is considering conscription.

Cronenberg’s tale focuses on one family in particular. Patriarch Charles York (Peter Gallagher), retired from a storied career as a TV journalist, invites his four adult children (Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Sebastian Chacon, Alanna Bale) home for an important dinner. Dad, and the kids’ stepmother Dawn (Uni Park), have decided to enlist.

With this dinner bombshell Cronenberg sets in motion a realistically cynical look at a government’s opportunistic manipulation of a thinning of the herd. She then zeroes in on the festering effect of privilege on the York children, simultaneously throwing shade at the “salt of the earth” types who are as violently judgmental as their position allows.

Gallagher’s great as the martyr desperate to leave a legacy, and Hampshire’s ferociously self-serving villain is a joy. Enrico Colantoni delivers the most fascinating, frustrating character, easily stealing every scene.

Humane makes two horror films in a row, following last week’s Abigail, where you don’t really root for anyone. Everyone’s terrible and it’s slightly disappointing that anyone survives at all. Worse, the big revelation that pushes characters toward the climax is unearned.

More problematic is that there are two fairly substantial omissions—not plot holes, just conveniently placed gaps in clarification that feel like intentional cheats. Beyond that, the writing often feels slightly behind the times. Jared York’s (Baruchel) claim that he “doesn’t see color” feels more suited to a tale set a decade ago rather than in a near-future dystopia.

These writing concerns don’t sink the effort entirely. An intriguing premise buoyed with darkly comedic performances, plus a brisk 90 minute runtime keep Humane entertaining, but it’s hard not to feel a bit disappointed.

Think It Through


by George Wolf

Take two longtime friends on the verge of going their separate ways, and throw in one night of epic partying before they graduate. There will be hijinks, conflict, feelings expressed, and resolution.

We know this formula, right?

Not so fast. Expanding their Emergency short from 2018, director Carey Williams and writer K.D. Dávila run those familiar tropes through a tense, in-the-moment lens that upends convention while still delivering a consistent layer of laughter.

Sean (RJ Cyler from Power Rangers and The Harder They Fall) and Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins, Black Box and The Underground Railroad) have two months until they graduate Buchanan college. Their plan is to make history by becoming the first Black men to complete Buchanan’s Legendary Party Tour. They’ve managed to score all seven necessary invites, but a complication arises.

There’s a passed-out underage white girl in their living room.

Kunle’s instinct is to call 911, but Sean quickly reminds him that Black folks have been shot for far less than what it might appear is going on.

And so the two friends decide to deal with the situation themselves, adding their pal Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) to the plan while the unconscious girl’s sister (Sabrina Carpenter) and two of her friends stay in pursuit via phone tracking.

Williams does a masterful job juggling tones. Early on, the terrific performances from Cyler and Watkins get us invested in the friendship before Williams increases the pressure. He’s able to blend some terrifying dread into the ridiculous nature of the situation with a quiet confidence that deepens the real-world stakes.

Dávila, fresh off writing the Oscar-nominated short Please Hold, again mines law enforcement anxieties with deft precision. Her transition to a feature-length screenplay is seamless, sharpening the narrative with clever, organic plot turns and the characters with authentically grounded humor.

From clueless white allies to the distance between “Black excellence” and “thug,” Emergency covers plenty of socially conscious ground. And though a beat or two may seem less than subtle, the film never panders.

So we get the two friends ready to explore the future, searching for their place in the world. But this wild night of partying holds more sobering lessons than we’re used to seeing.

For these young men, it’s about how quickly their perception of the world can change forever, and the unrelenting weight of navigating how the world sees them.