Matthew 18 (2014)

Director: Roy Belfrey .
Starring.Lanore Van Buren Belfrey, Sanya Belfrey, Don Benjamin, Luenell, Faizon Love USA. 1h 41m.

This all black horror movie takes it’s religion in young people way more serious that I had expected. Being coined as the scariest African american movie of all time I struggled to try and work out what it was in competition with, Blackula (1972)? Abby (1974)? The Sorrows of Elizabeth (2016)? There aren’t too many that come to mind but it’s an subgenre of cinema that I’m not fully clued up on unless it’s a Nollywood epic. Centering around one young girl who thinks she’s too smart for faith, Michelle Jamieson (Lanore) was raised in a deeply religious family but wants to express her independence, by moving away and thinking for herself, when an opportunity arises for her to flee her bible thumping parents she’s takes a scholarship in a medical program and skips town to her aunt’s house, a large mansion which has been in the family for generations but what she encounters rocks her beliefs to the core.

Michelle settles in quickly after a speedy catch up with her aunt played by the larger than life stand-up comic Luenell, she soon gathers a group of amazing friends and hooks up with the hottest guy in town, played by hunsker Don Benjamin and all is going well until she starts noticing minor disturbances around the home. The odd scuttling noise or rustling in the dark… like any typical haunted house movie.

The parable of wandering sheep? Matthew 18 – Again I say to you that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be don’t for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name,. there am I in the midst of them.

With Luenell and Fazio Love I assumed this was going to be some kind of Scary Movie (2000) spoof horror but it turned out to be quite a serious affair, slowly Michelle finds herself being drawn to investigate the ghostly bumps in the night and as soon as she had given up her faith she was back in the bible again. Her family also experience a few strange apparitions, one is an animal skull wearing spectre in a church that resulted in one of the scariest scenes of the film, pair this up with the Sixth Sense (1999) twist at the end and it makes for an okay film but it’s just too much drama to make it a real horror film if my opinion and the slow pace doesn’t really pick up that much, the odd jump scare results in a long lull of drama.. so much drama and at times so much romantic drama..

Roy Belfrey has managed to create a fairly believable spooky thriller, with what seems to be a limited budget and a lot of family members? It does hold its own in a world of remakes and duplicate movies, instead this film has some original ideas and content which is something I greatly admire but it just didn’t scare. The ghost soon turns out to be a disgruntled white woman, and judging from the age of the house it’s pretty easy to see the ties to civil wars and race, which I guess can’t ever be overlooked. Other films such as Get Out (2017) have tackles these issues in other more terrifying ways, but it seems a common facet to keep coming back to.

Hopefully this will inspire more directors to try out the waters with all black horror in the future, there’s a lot of Angel Heart (1987) mysticism to be found with the meld of religion and including all the pain and hate from the persecution of the wars I’m sure a few more horror stories can be pulled from the cultural roots, if not that, then go the Japanese route and make a horror movie about hair extensions..

Rating 4/10

RBlack Killers (), Blackula (1972), Abby (1974), Get Out (2017) , Black Panther (2018), I’m gonna get you sucker (1988)
L – All black Movies
A – Why I can’t stand all black movies…

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