Black Horror Films: Blame (2014)

Two parents face an unspeakable dilemma after a video is discovered of their college-bound son's collusion in a violent, criminal act.

Written & Directed by Kellee Terrell

The soft warm glow of the lighting only hyper-angelicizes the first scene we're introduced to. A patriarch opens his prayer with a spirit of thanks for the family that surrounds him at a dining room table stuffed with food they will all share together in a matter of moments. His upbeat speech accentuated by noting that his son will receive a full ride to MIT. But suddenly, a disruption appears in the form of an young lady, standing behind him like a dirty cloud that'll surely corrupt this moment. A warning that all is not quite right with this Hallmark display.

Blame is an emotionally devastating expedition into plethora of heavy topics, all approached with nuance and care; sexual assault, victim blaming, economics, family as well as the Black male image. It is the silence, body posture, and gestures that say more than dialogue. Writer/director Kellee Terrell never overburdens her characters with too many words. Their lifetime of intimacy is palpable and emotions are read successfully by both the characters and the audience. It is unbareably tense before the verbal sting of wanting so dearly to hold on to that perfect opening montage. To believe that it wasn't all a lie. While Junior (Javoun Baker), a sweet boy whose trajectory as the first to attend an internationally-known prestigious school, a feat unfortunately not aligned with young Black men born to a teenage union come loving, working-class adults, may actually mean more than the short life of a girl that was 'already depressed'.

Jason (Jerod Haynes) is naturally drowning in turmoil disguised as a bottle of whiskey with the plague of what some choose to believe about young women and girls who find themselves victims to sexual assault. He once looked at his son with such admiration and pride, yet Lala (Flavia Borges), 'the girl in the video' is our supernatural gateway into his wavering decisions as a haunter that I imagine will likely stay with him for the rest of his life.

There may be a stern insistence on what the right thing to do in this situation is. However, Terrell throws the kitchen sink of circumstances and reasons why hesitancy is overwhelming for both Jason and his wife Deb (Kristin Anderson). While I don't want to spoil too much due to Blame's delicate 15 minutes, you may be intrigued by it's minor twists and conclusion thats reflection on reality is chillier than the its mid-western, late Fall atmosphere. This technically astute and brilliantly acted piece of genre cinema is intent on an brutally frank demonstration of how destructive rape culture is. Whether you choose to share your thoughts on this film or not, Blame will not leave your side and stew as a horrifying reminder of what plagues our newsfeeds and sometimes even our own personal experiences.

Watch can watch Blame right now on Vimeo.

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