Black As Night
by George Wolf
“That was the summer I got breasts and fought vampires.”
Yes, a lot is happening in Shawna’s life, but Black As Night never loses that matter-of-fact teenage perspective even as it broaches some plenty familiar horror terrain.
Shawna (Asjha Cooper) and her BFF Pedro (Fabrizio Guido) uncover a ring of vampires in their New Orleans precinct, and it’s going to take some help from the hunky Chris (Mason Beauchamp) and a privileged Twilight fan (Abbie Gayle) to track down the lead bloodsucker and take him out.
Black As Night is part of 2021’s “Welcome to the Blumhouse” collaboration with Amazon, and it continues last season’s focus on films by and about women and/or people of color.
Director Maritte Lee Go and writer Sherman Payne mix Candyman‘s themes of gentrification and disposable populations with the surface level adventures of Buffy and The Lost Boys for a vampire tale that is most noteworthy for its fresh cultural lens.
The message isn’t unique or particularly subtle, production values can be shaky and there’s a hearty helping of exposition shortcuts, but these kids have spunk. Cooper makes Shawna’s journey from insecure wallflower to confident vampire killer an endearing one, and Keith David is here to lend his always welcome gravitas.
And though it often feels like Black As Night is content to just jump on a crowded ride, it consistently finds small moments to call its own. Plus, large numbers of vampires to kill!
So, how was your summer?