Black Horror Films: Page One (2017)
Written by Tarik Davis
Directed by Don P. Hooper
Even with a wealth of sincerity behind wanting your internal sleuth flipped on their head, the lingering insistence on our conditioning from endless fictional stories we've watched and read before acts as a safety net in order to assure and/or guard us from any possible disappointment. This probably rings true the most in genre (primarily sci-fi and horror) products. Concerning itself with formula, horror's extreme exploration into the darkness is at times, in need of its predictability so audiences aren't left completely in the dark themselves. Even if a monster, killer, or a killer monster keeps coming back, there's still a hero or heroine, weapon in hand whether it be physical, psychological, or both at ready to combat the symbolic repressive threat.
In Page One, the form of the hero subverts the status quo while living up to his earned title. Abel Worthy (Tarik Davis) is the man with the answers without the bravado or the arrogance that often makes others victims in horror films. In this turn of ironic events, it is Abel's status as 'Victim Number One' which makes him so survival savvy in the chaotic confines of an actual monster attack. The literal monsters compare little to his thick layered white male counterpart who believes the formulaic hype. Add in the assertive, perfectly timed quips of another set member (Dorcas Davis) who challenges the old school at every turn and Page One becomes the horror film that demands an expansion from its under ten minute run time.
This short is going to feel like a teaser with a master plan. Page One creates a stimulating atmosphere that begins and ends with that immediate flip of those pesky expectations. As the center piece, Abel is more than "an extra with lines". Davis as Abel infuses this ideology with his delivery, tone, and vulnerability that is crucial to removing the image of a Black man in horror away from caricature and more towards human with the ability to take control of his own willingness to survive. Page One's message bleeds outside the frames as the intent of mimicry to the racial and sociocultural turbulence of today remains a stressor and an obstacle. Page One is an open forum that is funny, considerate, and meaningful, with a great score. I'm impatiently looking forward to what this team has to complete the Page One mural.