Friday, April 12, 2019

Blumhouse’s Thriller (2018) Is Prom Night Meets Moesha

Thriller star Jessica Allain (Lisa Walker)
Thriller is a retribution slasher about how a childhood prank gone horribly awry can have deadly consequences. Four years later, the nine fickle Compton High School seniors involved are disguising their nightmare-inducing guilt with the typical teenage fare of good grades, football, parties, and misplaced anger. But the past looms in the shadows when a hooded figure aware of their nasty misdeed begins to pick them off during Homecoming weekend. With some old school echoes of the subgenre, Thriller is an ambitious yet overstuffed glimpse into the anxities and despair Black and Latinx teens face. While the film removes itself from the trap of monolithic depictions, it does suffer from following too many characters who get lost in a shuffle of storylines that never come full circle.

The grown folk cast with RZA (also responsible for the film's score), Candyman's Vanessa Williams, Vanessa Bell Calloway (Death Spa), rapper Lady of Rage, and perpetual scene stealer Mykelti Williamson (The Purge: Election Year) buoy the youthful cast of characters who work to avoid poverty, addiction, and the overall hardknocks of managing matters of race with the inevitable prickly angst of teenage identity.

Writer/director Dallas Jackson is a lifelong fan of the genre's anthologies and slashers. He describes Thriller as his "own version of Friday the 13th" in an urban setting. You get the youth, stern adults, and a killer looking to assert vengeance, but even the characters deciphered as the main players don't fully get the arcs they deserve. While I wish Thriller was more focused on just a few characters, it's a sure popcorn affair with enjoyable moments.

Thriller stars actress/model Jessica Allain and the impressive full ensemble cast includes Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump), Luke Tennie (SYFY's Deadly Class), Tequan Richmond (Ray), Paige Hurd (Everybody Hates Chris), Chelsea Rendon (Starz' Vida), Mitchell Edwards (The First Purge), Pepi Sonuga (Famous in Love), Jason Woods (Proven Innocent), Maestro Harrell (The Wire), and Michael Ocampo (Shooter).

You can watch Thriller on Netflix Sunday, April 14!
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