‘Black As Night’ is like any other small-budget vampire horror film which begins on a strong note and then gradually slides down the rung carelessly. The film is similar to, but not as good as ‘Vampires vs. The Bronx’.
It uses a teenager horror trope to discuss the heavier topic of marginalisation. It highlights issues in the black community through an amusing story that falls flat in some parts.
Set in New Orleans, post cyclone Katrina, ‘Black As Night’ is the story of Shawna (Asjha Cooper), a dark-skinned teen girl learning to love herself and finding her power, which is still in short supply.
Saddled with confidence issues, Shawna teams up with her best friend Pedro (Fabrizio Guido), a Mexican immigrant with the opportunity to attend an elite boarding school, for a party where her crush Chris (Mason Beauchamp) would be present.
But being shy, she messes up the situation and is left humiliated. She leaves the party in a huff and walks home alone. She is attacked in an isolated and dimly lit stretch by a group of homeless vampires.
Worried that she too would be turned into a vampire, she joins hands with Pedro, Chris, and her friend Granya (Abbie Gayle), a girl who is obsessed with vampires and vampire literature, to seek out the main vampire to destroy him.
He turns out to be Babineaux (Keith David), a former slave who became a vampire four hundred years ago and had eventually killed his master. Babineaux has been preying on the homeless and extremely poor for misguided reasons.
When he ticks off a list of dates throughout history in which it looks as if the tide of injustice might be shifting, he says, “All bright flames that got suddenly snuffed out.” It is a perspective not typically seen in a generic horror film.
The film tackles poverty, homelessness, drugs, crime and colour issues seamlessly. But the plot, as a whole, feels rushed, with character-development shortcuts. And the scares are faintly effective.
On the performance front, the acting falters at times, varying from overly dramatic to rigid. But Guido and Cooper give a moderately consistent and authentic delivery. Overall, this comic horror story with issues scheming below the surface is still a fun watch.
–By Troy Ribeiro