A mishmash of half-baked ideas
There have been a whole wave of social horrors recently, following Get Out’s overwhelming success when it dropped back in 2017. To be fair, there have been some decent efforts over the years, including that aforementioned movie and His House, but also some real stinkers as well.
There’s a fine balance needed between getting the message out and actually delivering an enjoyable movie for the suitable genre. Despite some jump scares and a decent performance from Keith David, Black as Night falls squarely into the latter category.
In its simplest form, Black as Night is a coming of age drama wrapped up in a thinly dressed veil of vampire horror. This movie lives and breathes YA territory, centering on teenager Shawna, who has some serious self-esteem issues. As she pines for local hottie Chris, she finds herself caught up in a deadly battle with vampires who happen to be living in New Orleans.
With the city gripped with a heroin epidemic and struggling to get back on its feet following Hurricane Katrina, Shawna teams up with best friend Pedro, Chris and a strange rich girl to save the day from the vampire threat.
It’s a pretty simple formula in truth, one that actually gives Black as Night the feel of a watered down version of Netflix’s Fear Street movies this summer. Only, with less twists and turns… and less interesting characters.
There are a number of issues with this movie, including its length which feels around 20 minutes too long. That’s not exactly a great point to make given the film is less than 90 minutes already.
The other issue here comes from the narration, which is awkwardly contrived and – at its worst – throws jokes in completely inappropriate moments. “This was the summer I got breasts and fought vampires.” Shawna chimes in early on, immediately throwing this movie into comedic territory. And yet, there’s not a single bit of comedy that lands.
With the right script, the idea of vampires preying on the vulnerable in this community could have been a home-run. The movie’s social themes are actually quite good and highlighting gentrification and the inequality in New Orleans is vey much appreciated. The trouble is, this same forethought hasn’t translated into any other aspect of the movie, including a cheesy and contrived romance that adds absolutely nothing to the film, despite its attempts to make Shawna more interesting. Which it fails to do.
Black as Night is quite simply a poor movie. It’s a mishmash of different concepts and ideas that have potential but ultimately fall short of expectations. Regardless of how much fun the cast and crew had making this, the same can’t be said for its audience watching it.