‘Black Box’ Review

After starring in award-winning commercials and garnering participation in short film festivals, Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. made a solid feature film directorial debut with a compelling thinker Black box. A part of Welcome to Blumhouse series of eight genre entries made for Amazon by the television division of Jason Blum, the horror series begins with a solid background in horror and becomes less distinctive as it moves into psychological terrain and more emotional. Still, the confident storytelling keeps you hooked, as are Mamoudou Athie’s powerful performances as an amnesiac widow and Phylicia Rashad as a brilliant brain expert playing God.

News photographer Nolan (Athie) was introduced to tears of joy when she hugged her young daughter for the first time. That blurred image was quickly revealed to be a video he was watching on his laptop. Like the family photo album he flips through, it’s part of a constant effort to capture his memory.

Key point

Memorable up to a point.

RELEASE DATE October 6, 2020

Nolan lost his wife Rachel (Najah Bradley) in a car crash but he survived, albeit after a horrific injury that left him in a coma for three days and declared braindead before suddenly regaining consciousness. His dementia means that his daughter Ava (Amanda Christine), now of primary school age, has had to become the adult in the family, teaching him basic habits, guiding him to participate attend professional meetings and rein in his inexplicable urge to do things the way they are supposed to. was never a part of life before his trauma, like smoking.

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Because of his poor progress with numerous medical consultations, Nolan’s doctor friend Gary (Tosin Morohunfola), encourages him to see Dr. Lillian Brooks (Rashad), a renowned neuropsychiatrist. worked at the same hospital, who had considerable success with an experimental program. in memory access. She hooks him up to a hypnotized black box device that sends him into a virtual space from which he can access various blocked memory paths by clicking on the crown on the top. an analog clock.

These montages, enhanced by Brandon Roberts’ unsettling scores and DP Hilda Mercado’s nervous handheld camera and murky lighting, are some of the film’s best. They show a man traveling into a past that is both familiar and foreign, with scenes like his wedding day marred by blurred faces that are unrecognizable by anyone there. There is also a menacing figure, a dark presence seen in Nolan’s nightmares, announcing itself with the sinister sound of something rattling beneath his feet.

That character, credited to the credits as “The Backwards Man,” played by actor and campaigner Troy James with his incredible resilience evading VFX, recalls creepy echoes of the trip. Linda Blair’s famous spider walk from The Exorcist and countless variations of J’s horror since then. It suggests an opposing meeting of the id and the ego, which gradually turns into a battle for control of Nolan’s consciousness. “I run my mind, it doesn’t run me,” was the mantra Dr. Brooks gave him to overcome his fear.

As Nolan’s black box sessions continued, he became increasingly plagued by inexplicable factors such as the apartment he had never lived in and signs of physical violence against his wife, which which Gary assured him he would never do. Osei-Kuffour Jr. and co-screenwriter Stephen Herman, who wrote the original story, slyly sparks suspicion around Gary by introducing another woman to a young daughter (Charmaine Bingwa and Nyah Marie Johnson) who have The link to Nolan’s memories confuses him further.

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All these are primary Blumhouse materials with faint similarities to Get out, and as long as the explanations remain elusive, it’s slick and engaging, bolstered by a very capable cast. But the production company’s reputation for low-budget horror creation is also arguably the film’s biggest downside. Once the atmosphere of horror dissipates and the story moves on to correcting the past, undoing fathers’ sins and preserving the bond of a father and daughter bound together by grief, The stress of deprivation gave way to more standard drama entertainment.

The violent presence in Nolan’s memory bank begins to prevail, despite Osei-Kuffour Jr.’s restraint. as the director kept the scary element to a minimum. But it’s refreshing to witness a journey into the subconscious, in which exciting sci-fi elements depict a world only slightly more technologically advanced than our own. – not like the fake dark mind in such movies Cell, Dream landscape or even Start. I don’t lose interest in Black boxbut I did wish it maintained the acute insecurities of the first half all this time.

The Welcome to Blumhouse The series consists of eight films from diverse emerging talent. Black box premieres October 6 with Veena Sud’s Lie, starring Mireille Enos, Peter Sarsgaard, and Joey King. Next on October 13 is Madhuri Shekar’s Evil eye, with Sarita Choudhury, Sunita Mani and Omar Maskati; and Zu Quirke’s Serenade, starring Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman. A second case of four titles will be announced.

Production company: Black Bar Mitzvah, Blumhouse Television, Amazon Studios
Distributor: Amazon Prime Video
Actors: Mamoudou Athie, Phylicia Rashad, Amanda Christine, Tosin Morohunfola, Charmaine Bingwa, Troy James, Donald Watkins, Najah Bradley, Nyah Marie Johnson
Directed by: Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr.
Screenwriters: Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr., Stephen Herman; Herman’s story
Producer: John Brister
Executive Producers: Jason Blum, Aaron Bergman, Lisa Bruce, Marci Wiseman, Jeremy Gold, Mynette Louie, William Marks
Director of Photography: Hilda Mercado
Production Design: Ryan Martin Dwyer
Costume designer: Eulyn Colette Hufkie
Music: Brandon Roberts
Editor: Glenn Garland
Actor: John McApris
100 minutes

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