Welcome to the Blumhouse: Black as Night movie review (2021)

The script by Sherman Payne is filled with voiceover for high schooler Shawna (Asjha Cooper), and while that storytelling tactic normally can be a bit much, it does help plant the story firmly in her perspective, and let Cooper’s compelling performance reflect on the many pieces that then come into play. Shauna was born right after Hurricane Katrina, and bits of her world show the impact 15 years later—her mother is addicted to drugs and living a scary life in a low-income housing community called the Ombreux. When Shauna enters the space for the first time in the film, it has its own haunted air, one that the movie effectively repeats throughout as the script fills its world with brief but meaningful notes about issues of race, history, and maturity. 

“Black as Night” is about a truly vampiric force who has been preying on the homeless in the area, as seen in a pre-credits sequence where one man is tackled to the ground by three others, their fangs ripping into his flesh as he screams. When the vampire hunt becomes personal for Shauna in an effective, shocking development that creates deep personal stakes, she opts to become a vampire hunter, to stop the powerful figure who has been using the homeless of New Orleans. She’s assisted with some hesitance by her friend Pedro (Fabrizio Guido), and a crush named Chris (Mason Beauchamp). Sometimes Pedro or Chris struggle to be on the same page as her, and these moments of hesitation hold the movie back when its sense of adventure should be going full throttle. 

The script works though a whole list of familiar elements from bloodsucker lore: coffins, sharp fangs, garlic, wooden stakes, etc. More often than other movies that find characters confronting a genre face-to-face, the scenes of them discovering these tropes can feel tedious. Any time it’s about Shauna and her friends simply understanding the “rules,” it takes a little life out of the fun in seeing vampires, and it sets up some standard action scenes that create baseline thrills and plainly shadowy sets. The jump scares don’t really work, and they blend into the rote horror aesthetic that unfortunately takes up a lot of space. 

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