Monday, April 24, 2023

From Black (2023)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: From Black (2023)
Genre: Horror
Length:  1h 40min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Darkroom Films, Eyevox, K7 Entertainment, K7 Storytellers, Shudder
Director: Thomas Marchese
Writers: Jessub Flower, Thomas Marchese
Actors: Aerial Nicole, Alicia S Mason, Anna Camp, Eduardo Campirano, Ian Casselberry, Jennifer Lafleur, John Ales, Nicholas Marchan, Ritchie Montgomery, Travis Hammer
Shudder Blurb: A young mother, crushed by guilt after the disappearance of her young son 5 years previously, is presented with a bizarre offer to learn the truth and set things right. But how far is she willing to go, and is she willing to pay the terrifying price for a chance to hold her boy again?

Selina’s Point of View:
From Black had a strong start. It dropped right into the tension, then showed what started the whole thing. Watching Anna Camp’s (Pitch Perfect, The Help, Desperados) main character, Cora, wake up to find her son had gone missing while she was high was heartbreaking. In fact, Camp’s entire performance was amazing. I believed everything she was selling.
After that, I had some serious trouble staying invested.
Every chapter felt like it was repeating the last. I appreciate that it was showing the tedious nature of the ritual before going into the harder scares – but it didn’t work for me. It didn’t set me up for anything, didn’t cause the scares to hit harder. Most of the time it didn’t even really lead to extra character development. There’s a reason most horror movies skip the setting up process of those rituals.
I will say that the design of the demon was glorious. It felt like it was inspired by Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – which still has some of the most impressive demon designs I’ve ever seen.
From Black would have benefited from being ten minutes shorter. If the editing was a little tighter, I think I would have found myself more engrossed.
Despite From Black not being my cup of tea, I see how others might enjoy it.
Cat’s Point of View:
From Black is one of those movies I’ve looked forward to watching; and having a chance to view a screener offered a thrill of anticipation. I wouldn’t exactly say I was excited to watch - only because of the subject matter therein. We’re dealing with real nightmare fuel here. It’s a parent’s worst fear for something to happen to their children, after all. 

One such loss was at the core of this story. It’s hard to know how productions with this sort of narrative are going to land until you watch them. Depending on what is involved and how well that’s executed makes all the difference whether or not there will be ugly tears or a whole lot of cringe. 

When you mix such loss with supernatural horror, that takes things to a whole different level. There’s a little bit of extra effort involved to maintain suspension of disbelief. Not only does the story need to be good, but then there are effects involved, too. I’ve been intrigued as to how From Black would approach this, and on board to see how it all would play out. 

Anna Camp’s performance was a visceral gut punch. I knew she could handle what this role would throw at her, and she was my primary draw to this production. Before her run on the Pitch Perfect (2012) trilogy, I got to know her through True Blood (2008-2014). In From Black, Camp just embodied a vessel for grief and regret from the consequences of her character’s poor decisions. My heart went out to her and I was on that roller coaster ride from start to finish. 

The score from From Black kept me at the edge of my seat. The tension was thick just from the fairly dissonant notes that stopped just short of cacophony, and it set up everything else happening on screen well. This wasn’t a movie for light and airy music, and the tone was fitting.

I was surprised to learn that this was writer and director Thomas Marchese’s (Innocent, Fallen, Road to Hope) first full-length fictional production. His background seems to have been predominantly in shorts and documentary work thus far. Though, I think his experience with cinematography served him very well in From Black. There were some shots that were really amazing, and he really played to the ‘less is more’ where the more horrific aspects were concerned. It seemed like most of the paranormal elements were also handled with well-executed practical effects. 

You really don’t need buckets of blood and flashy CGI bells and whistles to sell something horrifying and heartbreaking. 

I’m curious and interested in seeing what else Marchese might bring to the horror genre in the future. 

While I’m a little miffed with whoever put the trailer together for From Black, as it reveals things better left unveiled during the actual movie, I found the film to be a solid watch. I got everything out of it that I expected and even a satisfying ending. It’s not a movie I could see myself watching repeatedly due to the subject matter, though I definitely would recommend anyone with a Shudder subscription to give this indie-horror filmed in small-town Mississippi a chance.

From Black will become available to stream on Shudder and AMC+ on April 28th, 2023.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R
Movie Trailer:

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