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The Blackening (film)

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The Blackening
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTim Story
Written by
Based onThe Blackening
by 3Peat
Produced by
  • Tim Story
  • Tracy Oliver
  • E. Brian Dobbins
  • Marcei A. Brown
  • Jason Clark
  • Sharla Sumpter Bridgett
CinematographyTodd A. Dos Reis
Edited byPeter S. Elliot
Music byDexter Story
  • MRC
  • The Story Company
  • Tracy Yvonne Productions
  • Artists First
  • Catchlight Studios
Distributed byLionsgate
Release dates
  • September 16, 2022 (2022-09-16) (TIFF)
  • June 16, 2023 (2023-06-16) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[2]
Box office$18.6 million[3][4]

The Blackening is a 2022 American black horror comedy slasher film directed by Tim Story and written by Tracy Oliver and Dewayne Perkins, based on the 2018 short film of the same name by the comedy troupe 3Peat. It stars Dewayne Perkins, Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo, Antoinette Robertson, Sinqua Walls, Jay Pharoah, and Yvonne Orji. The film, set on Juneteenth, follows a group of black friends targeted by a masked killer while staying at a cabin in the woods.

The Blackening premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 16, 2022, and was theatrically released on June 16, 2023, by Lionsgate in United States and on August 23, 2023 by Universal Pictures in United Kingdom. The film grossed $18 million and received generally positive reviews, with critics noting the satire of horror film tropes and ethnic stereotypes.


Morgan and Shawn arrive to a cabin in the woods where they plan on celebrating Juneteenth with their group of friends. In the game room, the couple discovers a board game called "The Blackening", which features a racist Little Black Sambo caricature.

Suddenly, the lights go out and a mysterious voice demands that the couple play. Shawn answers a question incorrectly and is promptly killed with an arrow to the neck. Morgan attempts to escape but is captured.

The next day, Lisa, Allison, and Dewayne make their way to the cabin and discuss King bringing Lisa's unfaithful ex-boyfriend Nnamdi for the weekend's festivities. On her way to the cabin, Shanika runs into a former schoolmate named Clifton at the gas station, who reveals he is also joining the group.

Before leaving, Shanika is unnerved by the facially disfigured clerk who stands by her menacingly. Once the group is all together, they find Ranger White not allowing them entry. After settling the dispute, the friends begin to set up for a night of partying.

After drinks, drugs, and games ensue, the group questions who specifically invited Clifton. After the lights go out again, the friends go to find a power box, only to come across The Blackening with game pieces correlating to their personalities. The voice speaks to them, revealing that he is keeping Morgan prisoner.

The voice forces the friends to play the game to save Morgan, and begins by asking trivia questions about African-American culture. Unfortunately, the friends fail to sufficiently answer a question about all the black actors that guest-starred on Friends and Morgan is attacked.

They are ordered to sacrifice one of their own based on whom they deem to be "the blackest"; the most black person will be sacrificed. Each of them comes up with their own defense of why it cannot be them, and after Clifton admits he voted for Donald Trump in both elections everyone chooses him out of spite.

Clifton goes outside and is shot in the chest with an arrow by the killer. When the friends are freed from the room, they attempt to go look for Morgan and find help. Despite knowing better, they agree with Allison's idea to split up.

She goes off with King and Shanika, while Dewayne has to go with Lisa and Nnamdi. The latter three end up running into Ranger White, who is willing to help them until the killer shoots him in the neck with an arrow.

Allison, King, and Shanika encounter the killer, and the trio manage to overpower and kill him. They unmask him to find that it's the clerk that Shanika saw at the gas station. Lisa, Nnamdi, and Dewayne then encounter a second killer before Lisa bashes his brains in. They look through his pockets to see that he is the first killer's twin brother, and they deduce someone hired them to be there.

The friends go into another room, where they find Ranger White's and Clifton's bodies, only for the latter to spring awake and reveal himself as the mastermind. He blames the group for always doubting his level of "blackness" when they knew each other at college, with this doubt leading to an incident where he drank heavily and ended up killing a woman when driving on the road.

After serving four years in prison for the DUI, he organized the entire night as revenge and prepares to kill the others before dropping them down a well where he dumped Shawn's and Morgan's corpses. The friends fight back before kicking him down the well to his apparent death. Clifton's laugh can be heard as they leave.

As the morning arrives, the friends are skeptical of calling the police for help. On the advice of Dewayne, they call the fire department instead, only for them to be sprayed with a hose.



The film was announced in January 2020, with Tracy Oliver and Dewayne Perkins writing the script, based on Perkins' 2018 short.[5] Tim Story was later hired to direct, and filming took place in Brentwood, California in late 2021.[6] Much of the film's dialogue was improvised by the cast.[7]


The Blackening premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival on September 16, 2022, and shortly afterwards Lionsgate acquired the distribution rights for "just short of" $20 million.[8] The film was released theatrically in the United States on June 16, 2023, the weekend of Juneteenth.[9][10] In the United Kingdom, the film was released on August 25, 2023 by Universal Pictures.[11]

Zahara Ariel and Jaryah Bobo claimed the movie infringed on their screenplay Southern Education and card game "Black Card Revoked" and attempted to get the film's release delayed.[12] On the day of the film's release, Erik Pedersen of Deadline Hollywood reported that California judge Dale S. Fischer rejected Ariel and Bobo's bid, saying, "Plaintiffs present little to no detail regarding either the game or the screenplay, and there is no reason to believe that the expression of ideas in either has been copied in the making of the film."[12]

Home media[edit]

The Blackening was released on digital download on July 7, 2023, and was released on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on August 22, 2023.[13]


Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, The Blackening was released alongside Elemental and The Flash, and was projected to gross $7–8 million from 1,775 theaters in its opening weekend.[14][2] The film made $2.5 million on its first day, including $900,000 from Thursday night previews.[15][16] The film went to debut on $6 million in its opening weekend (an average of $3,380), finishing sixth at the box office.[17] The film made $3 million in its second weekend, finishing seventh.[18]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 87% of 146 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7/10. The website's consensus reads: "While it could stand to be a little funnier and quite a bit scarier, The Blackening is a thoughtful satire that skewers horror tropes and racial stereotypes."[19] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 67 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 81% of filmgoers gave it a positive score, with 64% saying they would definitely recommend the film.[16]

Joe Lipsett of Bloody Disgusting rated the film four out of five, writing that "[w]hile the kills in The Blackening are decent and the killer's choice of weapon (a crossbow) is novel, it's the comedy and camaraderie between the friends that make the film stand out. Not only do these characters fight and support each other as real friends do, but Perkins and Oliver's script is also filled to the brim with smart, savvy jokes. The film is legitimately hilarious, tackling everything from obvious stereotypes to ingrained cultural prejudice within the group."[21]

For IndieWire, Rafael Motamayor gave the film a grade of "B", calling it "the first great horror parody of the post-Get Out era" and writing that "every slasher movie needs a good villain and here the killer wears a blackface leather mask. It's on the nose, but this parody has about as much subtext as Scary Movie and that's part of the fun. There is no toning down Blackness or explaining things to White audiences. If you don't know how to play Spades or what the Black anthem is, ask a friend."[22]

Potential sequel[edit]

In November 2023, Variety reported that MRC and Lionsgate were in talks with writers Dewayne Perkins, Tracy Oliver and producer E. Brian Dobbins to return for a sequel.[23] Perkins had previously expressed to the magazine that he envisioned a franchise akin to a "Scary Movie-esque series versus the Knives Out style with a new cast for each mystery".[24]


  1. ^ "The Blackening". British Board of Film Classification. June 14, 2023. Archived from the original on November 23, 2023. Retrieved June 14, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Hoping Not To Be Gone In A 'Flash': DC Pic Eyes $155M+ WW Opening – Box Office Preview". Deadline Hollywood. June 13, 2023. Archived from the original on June 13, 2023.
  3. ^ "The Blackening". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  4. ^ "The Blackening". Archived from the original on July 18, 2023. Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  5. ^ "'The Blackening': MRC & the Story Co. Adapting Comedy Central Short to Feature Film". January 16, 2020. Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  6. ^ "'The Blackening': Tim Story & MRC Film Wrap Production on Horror-Comedy Starring Dewayne Perkins, Antoinette Robertson, Jermaine Fowler, Yvonne Orji, Jay Pharoah & More". December 7, 2021. Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  7. ^ "'The Blackening' Writers Tracy Oliver and Dewayne Perkins & Stars Antoinette Robertson and X Mayo on Blending Improv Humor and Horror – Toronto Studio". September 12, 2022. Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (October 20, 2023). "Lionsgate Lands Tim Story-Helmed MRC-Financed Toronto Midnight Madness Horror-Comedy 'The Blackening'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  9. ^ Christian Zilko, "‘The Fabelmans’ Wins TIFF 2022 People’s Choice Award" Archived January 12, 2023, at the Wayback Machine. IndieWire, September 18, 2022.
  10. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 29, 2022). "Lionsgate Sets Juneteenth Release For Tim Story Movie The Blackening". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 29, 2022. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  11. ^ Falk, Graham (August 14, 2023). "The Blackening Trailer: UK release date, reviews, cast, run time and age rating". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on August 30, 2023. Retrieved August 30, 2023.
  12. ^ a b Pedersen, Erik (June 16, 2023). "Court Denies Bid To Delay 'The Blackening' Release, Says Copyright Suit Plaintiffs Failed To Make Case Against Lionsgate Pic". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 19, 2023. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  13. ^ "The Blackening DVD Release Date". DVDs Release Dates. Archived from the original on July 20, 2023. Retrieved July 20, 2023.
  14. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (June 13, 2023). "'The Flash' Targets $70 Million, Pixar's 'Elemental' Aims for $35 Million in Underwhelming Box Office Battle". Variety. Archived from the original on June 15, 2023. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  15. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 15, 2023). "'The Flash' Striking Around $9M Thursday Night – Box Office Early Look". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 16, 2023. Retrieved June 16, 2023.
  16. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 17, 2023). "'The Flash' Loses Speed With $60M 3-Day Opening: Here's Why". Deadline. Archived from the original on June 17, 2023. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  17. ^ Bennett, Anita (June 18, 2023). "'The Blackening' Makes Back Its Production Budget – But Opens in 6th Place at Box Office". Urban Hollywood 411. Archived from the original on June 19, 2023. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  18. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (June 26, 2023). "'Spider-Verse' Swinging Ahead Of 'Elemental' After Game Of Chicken; 'Flash' Edging Out 'No Hard Feelings'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 25, 2023. Retrieved June 26, 2023.
  19. ^ "The Blackening". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  20. ^ "The Blackening". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  21. ^ Joe Lipsett, "‘The Blackening’ Review – All-Black Slasher Is Equal Parts Comedy and Commentary" Archived September 22, 2022, at the Wayback Machine. Bloody Disgusting, September 13, 2022.
  22. ^ Motamayor, Rafael (September 13, 2022). "'The Blackening' Review: Black Horror Parody Without Apology". IndieWire. Archived from the original on September 22, 2022. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  23. ^ Jackson, Angelique (November 20, 2023). "The Blackening Sequel in the Works With Dewayne Perkins, Tracy Oliver and E. Brian Dobbins (Exclusive)". Variety. Archived from the original on November 20, 2023. Retrieved November 20, 2023.
  24. ^ Jackson, Angelique (June 24, 2023). "The Blackening Mastermind Dewayne Perkins on Tackling Horror Movie (and the Gay BFF) Tropes and Future Plans: 'It's Giving Franchise'". Variety. Archived from the original on November 20, 2023. Retrieved November 20, 2023.

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