Black as Night (2021) poster

Black As Night (2021)


USA. 2021.


Director – Maritte Lee Go, Screenplay – Sherman Payne, Producer – John Brister, Photography – Cybel Martin, Music – Jacques Brautbar, Visual Effects – VFX Legion, Special Effects Supervisor – Mik Kastner, Production Design – Ryan Martin Dwyer. Production Company – Blumhouse Television.


Ashja Cooper (Shawna Watkins), Fabrizio Guido (Pedro), Mason Beauchamp (Chris Thompson), Abbie Gayle (Granya), Keith David (Babineaux), Derek Roberts (Steven Watkins), Kenneisha Thompson (Denise Watkins), Frankie Smith (Jamal Watkins), Craig Tate (Lefrak), Sammy Nagi (Tundi), Al Mitchell (Marvin), Tunde Laleye (Yakubu), Theodus Crane (Bald Guy)


Shawna Watkins is a teenager growing up in New Orleans. She leaves a party and walks home, only to be attacked by what she realises is a vampire who tries to drink her blood before being driven off. She realises that vampires are preying on homeless people. She immediately becomes concerned for her mother Denise, a drug user living in the rundown Ombreaux Apartments. She goes to see her, only to find she is too late and that Denise has been turned into a vampire. As they fight, Denise burns up in the sunlight. Joined by her best friend Pedro, the hot guy Chris and Granya, a white girl who runs a vampire book club, Shawna sets out on a mission to find the head vampire Lefrak and stop the vampire threat.

Black As Night was a feature-length debut for Filipino-American director Maritte Lee Go, who had previously made the Vehophobia segment of the anthology Phobias (2021). The film was a production for near-ubiquitous Blumhouse, the producers of the Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Purge films, among a good many others, although was only released to Amazon Prime. (See below for a list of Blumhouse’s other genre films).

The Vampire Film has been in an anaemic state ever since Twilight (2008) hammered a stake into the heart of the genre, turning it into a bloodless teen chastity romance. Post-Twilight, the vampire film has been looking for new directions. Although many of the works to emerge have not gained the high-profile of their predecessors, there have been some highly creative works – see the likes of Stake Land (2010), A Girl Walks Alone at Night (2014), The Transfiguration (2016), My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To (2020) and Midnight Mass (2021).

Other efforts go for more comedic directions as with the likes of What We Do in the Shadows (2014), Bloodsucking Bastards (2015), Eat Locals (2017), The Night Watchmen (2017), Hawk & Rex: Vampire Slayers (2020), Super Hot (2021), Blood Relatives (2022) and Day Shift (2022). Others such as A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Bloodrunners (2017), Boys from County Hell (2020) and Vampire vs. the Bronx (2020) gain their effect out of transplanting the basics into a new environment.

Vampire hunters Fabrizio Guido, Mason Beauchamp, Ashja Cooper and Abbie Gayle in Black as Night (2021)
(l to r) Vampire hunters Fabrizio Guido, Mason Beauchamp, Ashja Cooper and Abbie Gayle

Black as Night has a number of similarities to Vampires vs. the Bronx that came out around the same time. Both films feature a group of young people living in an ethnically diverse community coming together to fight against an incursion of vampires into their ’hood. In both cases, we see the group gaining their knowledge about vampires by turning to popular culture interpretations – this has the highly amusing scene where Ashja Cooper turns to a vampire book club run by Abbie Gayle who is a Stephenie Meyer fan. In both cases, the vampires are representative of forces of urban gentrification – they are property owners buying up the neighbourhood in Vampires vs. the Bronx, while the vampire here seems to have a bizarre plan that involves turning the homeless into vampires and getting them to take a stand against the demolition of the ghetto.

The major difference is that the two have very different views of the world the characters live in. The ages of the protagonists are just a few years apart – adolescents in Vampires vs. the Bronx, while Ashja Cooper here has hit puberty (she is dating, while it is mentioned that she just developed breasts the year before, which would make her around 12-13, even if Ashja Cooper looks waay older than that – in reality, Cooper is 28 years old). However, Vampires vs the Bronx is a film about a community coming together and ends on a street fair and celebration of community spirit, whereas Black as Night is unafraid to deal with less rosy elements of community life – drug dealers and addicts, people living in badly rundown projects, homelessness.

Both films works quite well in reinventing or transplanting the basics of the vampire film. Black as Night creates a likeable line-up of characters with much of the show being stolen by Fabrizio Guido as the gay best friend. The vampire threat never emerges too much – there is the rather lame effect of vampires turning into puffs of smoke when staked, while there is a cavalry of good vampires that turn up at the end to save the day that you feel needed more explanation.

Jason Blum and his Blumhouse production company have produced a number of other genre films including:- Hamlet (2000), Paranormal Activity (2007) and sequels, Insidious (2010) and sequels, Tooth Fairy (2010), The Bay (2012), The Lords of Salem (2012), The River (tv series, 2012), Sinister (2012) and sequel, Dark Skies (2013), Oculus (2013), The Purge (2013) and sequels, the tv mini-series Ascension (2014), Creep (2014), Jessabelle (2014), Mercy (2014), Mockingbird (2014), Not Safe for Work (2014), Ouija (2014) and sequel, 13 Sins (2014), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), Unfriended/Cybernatural (2014), Area 51 (2015), The Boy Next Door (2015), Curve (2015), The Gallows (2015), The Gift (2015), Jem and the Holograms (2015), The Lazarus Effect (2015), Martyrs (2015), Visions (2015), The Visit (2015), The Darkness (2016), Hush (2016), Incarnate (2016), The Veil (2016), Viral (2016), Amityville: The Awakening (2017), Get Out (2017), Happy Death Day (2017), The Keeping Hours (2017), Split (2017), Stephanie (2017), Bloodline (2018), Cam (2018), Delirium (2018), Halloween (2018), Seven in Heaven (2018), Truth or Dare (2018), Upgrade (2018), Black Christmas (2019), Ma (2019), Prey (2019), Don’t Let Go (2019), Sweetheart (2019), Black Box (2020), The Craft: Legacy (2020), Evil Eye (2020), Fantasy Island (2020), Freaky (2020), The Hunt (2020), The Invisible Man (2020), Nocturne (2020), You Should Have Left (2020), The Black Phone (2021), Dashcam (2021), Firestarter (2022), M3gan (2022), Mr Harrigan’s Phone (2022), Nanny (2022), Soft & Quiet (2022), Run Sweetheart Run (2022), Sick (2022), They/Them (2022), Torn Hearts (2022), Unhuman (2022), The Exorcist (2023), Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023) and There’s Something Wrong With the Children (2023).

Trailer here

Actors: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Themes: , ,