If you’re going to make a social thriller dealing largely with race, Jordan Peele’s Get Out is clearly the model to follow. Not every attempt to get it right has worked (lookin’ at you Antebellum!), but Mariama Diallo hopes she’s got the formula down with her new horror film Master, which had the Sundance audience buzzing a couple of months ago.
Starring Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Talia Ryder, Talia Balsam, and Amber Gray, the film follows three African-American women at a prestigious, mostly-white university campus. One is the first Black woman to earn the title of “Master”, another is a professor facing a racially-charged board review, and another is a freshman student possibly faced with a campus curse.
While reviews for the film were mostly positive, I’ll admit to being one of the dissenters, noting that Diallo’s much better dealing with the racial dynamics than crafting the appropriate horror atmosphere.
Still, I feel like this is a movie that is going to make waves and attract the attention of those looking for Peele-esque fix.
Master opens in theaters and Amazon Prime Video on March 18th.
In writer-director Mariama Diallo’s debut feature, Master, three women strive to find their place at a prestigious New England university whose frosty elitism may disguise something more sinister. Professor Gail Bishop (Regina Hall) has recently been promoted to “Master” of a residence hall, the first time at storied Ancaster College that a Black woman has held the post. Determined to breathe new life into a centuries-old tradition, Gail soon finds herself wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee), an energetic and optimistic Black freshman. Jasmine’s time at Ancaster hits a snag early on when she’s assigned a dorm room that is rumored to be haunted. Things get worse when Jasmine clashes in the classroom with Liv Beckman (Amber Gray), a professor in the middle of her own racially charged tenure review. As Gail tries to maintain order and fulfill the duties of a Master, the cracks begin to show in Ancaster’s once-immaculate facade. After a career spent fighting to make it into Ancaster’s inner circle, Gail is confronted with the horrifying prospect of what lies beneath, her question ultimately becoming not whether the school is haunted, but by whom.