Jumanji Meets Saw: Dewayne Perkins on The Blackening | Interviews
Movie Reviews

Jumanji Meets Saw: Dewayne Perkins on The Blackening | Interviews

It’s easy to see why Perkins’ sharp short soon caught the eye of Tracy Oliver (“Girls Trip”), and landed on the desk of director Tim Story (“Barbershop”). Its cinematic expansion, partly penned by Perkins, features a stacked ensemble that includes actors like Jermaine Fowler, Sinqua Walls, Mayo X, Antoinette Robertson, and more—who much like the short are forced to choose who among them is the Blackest. 

Compared to Perkins’ sketch, there are some new wrinkles: the game Spades serves as a villain origin story, a board game featuring a “Sambo” character tests the characters as well, and a romance bubbles to the surface. But the constant throughout the additions is Perkins. With his every broad movement, his every measured inflection and his seemingly boundless ebullient energy redefines what a Black horror film can be and who it can be about. 

Perkins spoke with RogerEbert.com about queerness in genre movies, the dangers of playing Spades, and his most vivid horror movie memory. 

Did you always want to expand the short into a feature film?

Nope. I very consciously tried to just live in the moment. So I wrote it as a sketch cuz I was in a sketch show that needed an opening sketch. And then when it became a short, 3Peat, my improv group, we had a web series deal with Comedy Central and they said they needed sketches and I was like: “Oh, I have a sketch that I think would be great to film cause I’ve only done it on stage and having the production aspect would really add to the horror.” So that was one of the sketches that we picked. And Comedy Central picked it and filmed it and put it up. It went viral and then Tracy saw it, and then she called and said, “This should be a movie.” I agreed. But up until that point I didn’t think, Ohthis is going to be a movie. Or I didn’t think of expanding it cuz I wrote a sketch like I was doing sketch comedy and that’s what I was doing. Until she saw the potential for it to be a movie, that’s when it became kind of real.

Have you always been a horror fan?

I love horror. I like films that create emotional responses and horror does that very well. So I’ve always loved horror ever since I was a kid.

What’s your most vivid memory of watching a horror movie?

I remember some of the more impactful ones from when I was younger. Like “Candyman” was a pivotal one cuz my cousins and my godmother lived in Cabrini Green. So it just felt very close. I remember the first time watching “Candyman” my family rented it from a video store. While watching it, the lights went out and the power went out. My father was a very tall Black man, he was standing in the hallway and I just saw his silhouette and I was like, “Oh, this is the end for us.” [laughs] “You die.”

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