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Review: Black Box

Troy James as Backwards Man in BLACK BOX

With the Welcome to The Blumhouse series of films, I automatically expected more horror from Jason Blum and his successful studio. I guess that still may happen but based on what we get in Black Box, it doesn’t look like that genre will be at the center of what he’s delivering to us this time. Regardless of what genre this series will focus on, I’d say it’s off to a good start.

After losing his wife and memory in a car accident, a man (Mamoudou Athie) must find a way to move on as a single father. As he struggles to live a normal existence, he begins to become more and more desperate. Looking for anything to improve his condition, he undergoes an experimental treatment that could potentially help him regain his memories. At first, things start off well, but eventually, he begins to question the effects of the treatment as well as what’s really going on in his head.

The first thing I noticed was the acting. That’s partially because the set up on the film is mostly based on a father and daughter who are doing their best to move through the world they exist in. During this portion of the film, the acting wasn’t up to par. The primary issue here is that the actors are trying to act like actual people. Obviously, that’s what they should be aiming for, but rather than accomplishing that, they mostly feel like actors trying to act.

With actors, you never want the fact that they’re acting to be obvious. Even in films based completely in a world of fiction, you want to believe that the people you’re watching are actually who they’re pretending to be. With the exception of Phylicia Rashad, that’s not what I got from this section of Black Box. For me, it felt like these guys were acting, and for a while, that prevented me from losing myself in the film.

Once we get through this stuff, things start to shift and improve. This occurs when the literal “black box” in the film is introduced and put to use. We go from focusing on the actors attempting to portray characters living in their version of the real world to placing the spotlight on the story. Needless to say, this pushes the actors to the side a bit as they mostly have to respond to what’s taking place.

When this happens, the suspense increases as our minds are finally being challenged. In doing so, the film becomes more entertaining as things are taking shape in a way that will captivate you. As things move along, you’re going to be trying to figure out what’s going to happen next and where this will all end up.

The suspense and mystery build both inside and outside of the real world that exists within the film. As it does, the likelihood of you figuring out exactly what’s happening are slim. By the time we start to approach the final act, you should have a good idea of what to expect moving forward, but it probably won’t be where you originally thought we were going to end up.

While you’re watching, you may be looking back and putting things together as well. When doing this, you’ll come to understand just how carefully constructed just about everything in Black Box is. That’s a big positive in my mind as we often have to overlook glaring holes in films in order to enjoy them. Here, you don’t really have to do that.

Black Box begins slowly, but picks up over time and is definitely worth watching. By the time it’s over, I believe that most will appreciate what’s included. Sure, some of the acting isn’t as good as it should be in the early going, but that’s easy to forgive once things begin to move and you see what the rest of the film has in store.

Director: Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr.

Teleplay:
Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr.
Stephen Herman

Cast:
Mamoudou Athie
Phylicia Rashad
Amanda Christine
Tosin Morohunfola
Charmaine Bingwa
Troy James

Film Length: 100 minutes

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Distributor: Amazon Studios

  • 7.5/10
    Score - 7.5/10
7.5/10
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