It’s old people vs. young people in these two horror flicks about groups in communities of color. It seems Amazon is trying to tap into the “people of color horror” market following the release of the newest Candyman, but they’re succeeding mostly only in the casting department.
BINGO HELL (2021)
In Bingo Hell, we meet Lupita, an older woman who is sort of the self-crowned queen of her community. Problem for me is she’s presented as so unlikable by her behavior the moment we meet her that I found it hard to even connect with her. There’s a difference between being a feisty old lady and just being a nasty old bitch.
Anyway, the Bingo hall where she hangs with her older friends is under new management, and they’re not happy about it. The man running the show is one of those sleazy creeps that comes into town in horror movies and seems to promise people riches beyond their wildest dreams.
The movie becomes a cycle of different characters dying in gruesome ways and then Lupita showing up to find the body. There are also supernatural bingo balls rolling around everywhere.
A horror movie about geriatrics banning together to take down a crazy bingo leader should be loads of fun, but this just isn’t. It’s uninspired, with a plot that has a muddled trajectory and bland, flat characters. It tries really hard to make them sympathetic in the second half, but by then it was too late for me.
BLACK AS NIGHT (2021)
This Amazon original doesn’t feel so much like a movie as it does merely an okay attempt at a pilot movie for a series.
An awkward Black teen living in New Orleans is slowly coming out of her shell with the help of her gay BFF (landing this one on the does the gay guy die? page). But everything changes one night when she slips out of a party and has a vampire encounter on her way home.
Realizing there’s a band of vamps targeting homeless people, she begins to assemble her own little slaying team to hunt down the master and save her community from the threat.
While the vampires are nice and snarly and the cast is quite likable, Black as Night doesn’t quite have the pacing or energy necessary to pack a punch, and fails to even stir up any suspense or scares. It may be Prime’s answer to the Netflix movie Vampires vs. the Bronx, but at most it feels more like a cute attempt at another teen horror show that might last for two seasons on the CW.
It does delve into social commentary about the Black community a bit near the end, but that’s all shoehorned in with exposition through a monologue to be as simplistic as possible with no need for the audience to put any thought into the ideas being presented.
Also, considering this is a Black horror film, it’s kind of a bummer that a decision was made to make another marginalized main character the only one in the group that doesn’t quite make it to the end. Although that could change if there’s a sequel, which seems to be promised…