Spoilers want to let the horror genre take a breather.
Perhaps I should leave the horror films for October. I went into this one based only on the trailer. To her credit, I didn’t recognize Anna Camp until much later in the film. She’s stepping out into different roles and I will applaud her commitment to the character. The film premise was good but feels underdeveloped. It’s not that bad, but that also implies it’s not that good. Let’s get into it.
From Black (2023) was directed by Thomas Marchese who wrote it with Jessub Flower. Cora (Anna Camp) was a drug addict until the day she loses her young son. Overburdened with grief, she has sobered up but remains traumatized by the tragedy. Police officer Bray (Jennifer Lafleur) keeps tabs on her as well as making sure Cora’s former junkie spouse Wyatt (Travis Hammer) gets the court ordered restraining orders. However, Cora rarely ever accepts or welcomes Bray’s help. One day, a man from her support group, Abel (John Ales), approaches her with a rather bizarre offer. Cora can have a chance at seeing her son again, provided she’s willing to accept a supernatural bargain.
The build up is quite decent. I was interested enough in how the characters end up where they do. Camp does a decent job and is almost unrecognizable. Lafleur is a strong female presence throughout as officer Bray, and subverting the stereotype of the cop-hero turned romantic-interest we’ve all come to expect. As for Ales’ performance, I don’t feel the characterization came close to the mark. However, as much as some efforts are commendable, the outcome and the storytelling lack substance. It’s not so much of a slow build as a rather shaky construction.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold up once we’re into the last half. You have an idea where it’s going, but the way it’s told it does feel like the images and the location are just imagery for the sake of it. Our demonic antagonist would have worked better without a voice. The supposed twist with Abel happens inside some sort of nightmare state. We never get a proper satisfying dark ending with all the gloom. The finale, foreshadowed and all, doesn’t end up in shocker or dread. It’s not a particularly scary film.
Perhaps recommended for a rainy day with reservations. Horror films should up the dread, not fizzle out of it. I wish it had gone for a bit of a thriller vibe to have something else going for it. I did see a decent performance from most of the main cast, specially Camp. However, the storytelling didn’t seem to be trying to get somewhere as much as just passing from one scene to the next. Any progression seems lost once we’re past the second half. Worth a watch at the bottom of your watchlist.
That will do for now.