Black As Night (2021) Review
|Synopsis: A teenage girl with self-esteem issues finds confidence in the most unlikely way, by spending her summer battling vampires that prey on New Orleans’ disenfranchised with the help of her best friend, the boy she’s always pined for, and a peculiar rich girl.
Black as Night is a fun coming-of-age story about the summer a young girl grows breasts and fights vampires. It’s also a dark look at human nature splashed with social commentary. Though sometimes shaky in acting and production, Black as Night has a lot of heart and should keep you entertained all the way through. While it’s true this flick would work best as teen horror, I also found myself half-wishing it could be the start of a series so I could watch where Shawna (Asjha Cooper) goes with her vampire knowledge and newfound confidence.
Set in New Orleans about 15 years post-Katrina, many of Black as Night’s characters are struggling. Protagonist Shawna’s mother (Kenneisha Thompson) is fighting addiction; homelessness and drugs run rampant in the city. All of this means a perfect feeding ground for vampires – especially vampires with a diabolical master plan.
This is one of those rare teen movies where relationships actually feel like teen relationships. Shawna and her bff Pedro (Fabrizio Guido) are allowed to be overconfident, brash, and awkward in all the ways teenagers can be and we get to see all the ways they’re torn between their families and what they want out of life as they move toward adulthood. It’s particularly fun to see Shawna step up during the movie – faced with a tragedy, she decides what she wants and goes after it, even though she’s scared and uncertain.
While Black as Night is fairly predictable, it was a fun watch. Keith David is always great, and I particularly enjoyed Kenneisha Thompson’s amazing performance as Shawna’s mother. This isn’t the most polished flick you’ll see, but it has a lot of potential and speaks the truth in ways a lot of horror movies – even those doing the social commentary bit – don’t. This felt like a spiritual Buffy successor and I’d watch it again.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B-