Sometimes you just want to go out and get drunk during a legendary party tour. But if you’re a college kid and a person-of-color, it isn’t always so simple. Emergency, the Sundance award-winning film from director Carey Williams (of the criminally underseen R#J), centers on a trio of college guys, two Black and one Latinx, whose wild night of partying gets derailed pretty harshly when they find a drunk white girl unconscious in their dorm room.
The film stars Donald Elise Watkins, RJ Cyler, Sebastian Chacon, Maddie Nichols, and Sabrina Carpenter, with a script by KD Davila who won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Williams impressed me greatly with R#J, a social media take on Romeo & Juliet. I’m not sure if that one ever got released but it should’ve. Emergency is an expansion of Williams’ 2017 short film which also premiered at Sundance.
I enjoyed Emergency and its focus on the friendship and the high stakes of their predicament. Even when the film shifts in tone, as it does often, we’re always aware of the danger they’re in just for the color of their skin.
Emergency hits theaters on May 20th, followed by Prime Video streaming on May 27th.
Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and his best friend, Sean (RJ Cyler), are both seniors in college about to embark on an epic night of Spring Break parties. Sean has the whole night planned out, including every party they will hit on their “legendary tour.” Kunle is down, yet mostly concerned with finishing up his mold experiment in his lab, as his acceptance to Princeton is hinging on the results. They return to their apartment to pre-game, yet find that their roommate, Carlos (Sebastian Chacon), left the door open.
As they enter with trepidation, Sean and Kunle discover a drunk, semi-conscious White female they don’t know on the floor and an oblivious Carlos, who didn’t hear her come in over the video game blaring in his ears. Kunle wants to call the cops, but Sean vehemently opposes the idea, concerned about how it will look when the cops show up (two Black men, one Latino man, and a passed-out White woman).
Together, Carlos, Sean, and Kunle load the girl, who they nickname Goldilocks, but whose real name is Emma (Maddie Nichols), into Sean’s van to take her somewhere safe rather than calling the police. Meanwhile, Emma’s sister, Maddy (Sabrina Carpenter), has realized that Emma left the party they were at, and begins to search for her in a drunken panic using Emma’s phone’s location. What ensues is a chaotic, hilarious, and tension-filled chase all over town as our trio grapples with their differences while attempting to bring Emma to safety.