Review: ‘From Black’

Anna Camp's SHUDDER Horror Reminds You "This Is A Barter, Not A Gift"

Years after the disappearance of her young son, a recovering drug addict is presented an offer to learn the truth about what actually happened that night and bring the child back. Wracked with guilt and desperate for closure she sets things in motion that will take her down a dark path, ultimately giving her a shot at redemption but at what cost?

Noah’s disappearance comes bubbling back up when Cora (Anna Camp) is found by her police officer sister Bray (Jennifer Lafleur) during a 911 call, covered in blood and surrounded by strange markings. From there, we are taken back to the beginning via flashbacks and dragged along revealing all the gruesome events leading us up to this point. Along the way, at a support group we meet Able (John Ales), a fellow grieving parent that informs Cora of a rite that can be used to bring back the one she lost but is he here to help or does he have an ulterior motive? Violence mixed with supernatural elements makes for a captivating ride along this well-worn trope of a missing child and a mother battling for answers. I found myself pulled in by director Thomas Marchese’s clever form of storytelling, skillfully blending flashbacks with the present day while breaking the ritual down in distinct chapters (Purification, Quickening, Invitation, Grief and Parturition). For his first feature-length attempt at a horror film, this was one hell of a solid offering. I can’t wait to see what comes next for this promising director, hopefully, he stays in the genre.

Most people, like myself, are familiar with Anna Camp from her role in Pitch Perfect as well as stints on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and True Blood but to see her in the role of a recovering drug addict, completely broken from the loss of her son is something that at first was a bit difficult to wrap my head around. She played the part well but I’ve always viewed her in comedic roles so I had to adjust. That being said, once we got rolling I was sucked in and completely invested in the trials and tribulations of a mother mourning, yearning to have her son back while battling a crippling drug addiction that tries to pull her back in at every turn. With her last big role being the better part of a decade away I was excited to see her back in a lead role. She’s an actress I’ve always thought deserved more screen time and judging by her performance in From Black she’s making a compelling case for just that.

The atmosphere of this film plays a large role as well. In any film like this, the key is to build an atmosphere that makes your viewer feel that dread creeping in from the shadows. Marchese nailed that vibe and boy what a creepy vibe that was. That, coupled with the intense imagery of our demon lusting after the lead, tempting her while only showing enough to let the audience fill in the blanks created exactly what I was looking for in a genre flick. I really enjoyed everything about this all the way down to the ending. It delivered a new twist on a common trope and ended on a higher note bringing a little levity to what can be considered an extremely heavy topic.

For fans of atmospheric, slower burn horror with an emphasis on demons and Satanic rites, From Black is definitely one worth searching out. Luckily you won’t have to look far because this one will be hitting Shudder today, April 28th.