Vampires can be complicated creatures. They could simply be bloodsuckers fighting for survival, they could be moody teenagers or they can work on multiple social levels. Welcome to the Blumhouse brings these latter story elements into the horror anthology series with Black as Night.
Shawna (played by Asjha Cooper) is struggling with boys and teenage life in the projects, but after she leaves a party alone one night, her struggles with becoming a vampire become all too real. By the time she realizes an immortal army made up of homeless people and addicts is building along the streets of New Orleans, she’s prompted into taking action after her crackhead mother fully transforms into a nightmare creature.
“I needed to know the rules of the game I was playing. Lucky for me, New Orleans is full of people obsessed with monsters and magic and stuff…”
Black as Night feels like its overall theme changes three times. The first third of the film has the teens living their everyday lives. In the second portion, they become paranormal detectives (which was my favorite part) and the final third finds Shawna becoming Buffy, avenging the death of her mom.
The horror tropes are there, provided with a side of laughter, as the characters seem to be poking fun of themselves along the way. If you were expecting to see a jazz funeral here, there is one (although it’s cut way too short), but I couldn’t believe the locals’ pronunciation of their home city (“N’awlins” is never spoken, which just didn’t feel right).
This supernatural revenge fantasy highlights some nice prosthetics and special effects to go with a cool animated intro and creepy music to set the mood. Featuring minority actors and a story that hits upon slavery, social justice and vampire supremacists, that may sound like a lot to absorb in an hour and a half, but together, it all seems to fit into the genre storyline.
While no one ever turns into a bat here and these undead monsters ain’t anything that crawled out of What We Do in the Shadows, they are entertaining. Having Keith David star as the Big Bad really strengthens the cast. He’s really great here.
As this is the second year for Amazon Prime Video’s Welcome to the Blumhouse franchise, the filmmakers have really upped their game this time around. Last year’s four films felt like they were feeling out the house of horror’s direction, but Season 2 has dramatically improved in quality storytelling. Beginning with Bingo Hell, I could really tell a difference. I also enjoyed watching Black as Night, which only makes me look forward to the final two releases this year: Madres and The Manor.
And should you ever wander upon a boarded up room in the projects that has a pair of red-and-yellow eyes bulging from the darkness, some safe advice would be to turn around and walk in the opposite direction. Quickly. Don’t even hesitate. Your life might just depend on it.