Studio: Amazon Studios
Master is a new kind of horror and thriller film!
Master is a brutal psychological thriller in which Regina Hall plays the role of Gail Bishop, the newly appointed dean of students, or master, at a prestigious Massachusetts institution called Ancaster. While Gail is moving into her new home, she experiences some minor supernatural events that affect her new role on campus. Meanwhile, Jasmine Moore, a new freshman in Ancaster, makes her way to the campus and her dorm with a mixture of fear, confidence, and worry that flows around her conscience and her well-being.
Regina Hall (Scary Movie series) portrays her role as Gail Bishop, a newly-appointed professor or simply called the “master” of this institution, while Zoe Renee comes into the screen as Ancaster freshman Jasmine Moore. At the same time, they both have experienced something that threatens their role-playing game and their well-being when getting fitted on campus and that is racism and fear, which are the main themes of the film. As much as she enjoys acting, Hall is what makes this film very subtle to see as she delivers a terrific performance based on her experience with her role in Scary Movie series and so does Renee right there.
This feature film serves as Mariama Diallo’s directorial debut as her main goal is to exclaim an interesting narrative filled with impactful social commentary dealing with racism and white supremacy with a plethora of terrifying, supernatural elements surrounded by a horror-intense music score from Robert Aiki Aubrey Love and some dark, creepy cinematography. Diallo also provides some clear references from Jordan Peele’s Get Out as the real precision lies throughout the film when it comes to exploring horror films that involve African American people setting foot in the white people’s personal spaces.
The story starts out nicely in the first half but as the film heads to the climax scenes, they end up being empty and emotionless as fear and racism draw the attention of what’s going to happen to both characters of Gail Bishop and Jasmine Moore. Though, in the end, Hall and Renee later make good chemistry in the second half of the film as they both know how to help each other and find their voice for the film’s entirety. Even the ending is a wonderful (though somewhat confused) conclusion to demonstrate the cultural and behavioral differences towards each race. Nevertheless, the script-writing offers an a strong point-of-view, allowing the audience to understand how discrimination affects the main characters who have been doing all suffering just to satisfy the forced plot lines down the line.
Also appearing in the film are Amber Gray as Liv Bechnam, Ella Hunt as Cressida, Talia Ryder as Amelia, Talia Balsam as Diandra, and Bruce Altman as Brian. They both seem pretty great, but admittedly, their decent acting could have been much better explored and studied, which results in the lack of focus and lack of character development on them.
Lining up for at least 90 minutes, Master is just mixed and average, but it’s not a great film to be honest. Though, Regina Hall manages to shine the light in front of the cast and crew as a lead actor. Some acting coming from other actors do need work though, even for Zoe Renee. This is a movie where you chose this, but ended up regretting that decision after you saw it but didn’t like it entirely. It’s not an awful movie, but stands closer to being awful. Master may be a horror film, but the director knows that the scariest, supernatural elements are mixed in the form of the persistent social realities that inspired this film to be a horror film.
(Review by Henry Pham)