MASTER (2022) Reviews and overview of black female horror

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Master is a 2022 horror film about two black women who begin to share disturbing experiences at a predominantly white college in New England.

Written and directed by Mariama Diallo, making her feature film debut.

The Amazon Studios-Animal Kingdom-Big Indie Pictures production stars Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Julia Nightingale, Talia Ryder, Ella Hunt, Noa Fisher and Anna Van Patten.

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 rumoured 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 fulfil 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?

“Diallo’s message is that institutional racism is so prevalent, so ingrained in society, that people of color can’t really feel safe anywhere. Even in supposed bastions of liberal education, it has a way of creeping in […] Placing that within the context of nightmares and witches and maggot-infested walls goes a long way toward conveying how scary it is that bigotry and intolerance still exist in any form in 2022.” The Aisle Seat

“Unlike some thrillers themed around timely topics, it’s impossible to divorce Master’s entertainment value from its social relevance because of how integral its commentary is to the horror’s context. There’s little leeway for interpretation to see the supposed witch as anything other than a direct metaphor for a frightening fear that influences your actions and shapes your personality.” 70/100 Culture Crypt

“The final twenty minutes, recalling The Shining, loops in Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s ghoulish score, and unpacks so many secrets involving colorism, passing, white paternalism, and so forth, that you wonder how Diallo kept it all together without every frame crumbling in her hands. It’s simply amazing. Detailed and deliberate, assertive but rarely obvious, Diallo’s Master is a towering, inventive shot in the arm for black horror.” A- IndieWire

” …Master is potent, twisty psychological horror. Led by a terrific cast, including Regina Hall and Zoe Renee, this slick slow-burn builds up a tangible atmosphere of racism and intensity. The darkness of the film’s thematic thrust may make audience members uncomfortable.” 4/5 Josh at the Movies

” …it offers moments of promise when fully leaning into either its psychological thriller tendencies or its more dramatic elements, but any progress or goodwill the film garners on behalf of its audience is thwarted in its final moments which land with a discouraging thud. There are encouraging fragments, both with the film’s cast and its solid production value. Yet, it is unable to truly hit the mark that it was aiming for.” 45% Keith Loves Movies

” …a stylish, sometimes terrifying genre film that shares DNA with Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, and likewise has much on its mind around intersectional notions of race, class and gender, with their past and present echoes. Not all of Diallo’s thematic queries land, and at times, she weakens her ideas by over-explaining them. Nevertheless, her fearless interrogation resonates like a penetrating scream you can’t unhear.” Variety

Master had its world premiere on 21st January 2022 at the Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently shown at the Miami Film Festival and SXSW.

Master will be available for streaming on Prime Video and theatrically in select locations on March 18th 2022.

Main cast and characters:
Regina Hall … Gail Bishop
Zoe Renee … Jasmine Moore
Julia Nightingale … Freshman Counselor
Talia Ryder … Amelia
Ella Hunt … Cressida
Noa Fisher … Katie
Anna Van Patten … Libby
D.C. Anderson … Painter
Angela Grovey … Dining Worker
Will Hochman … Tyler
John Kroft … Nicky
Amber Gray … Liv Beckman
Bruce Altman … Brian
Talia Balsam … Diandra
Kara Young … Sascha
Emmett Carnahan … Jock

Filming locations:
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

Technical details:
1 hour 31 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital

Mariama Diallo discusses the inspiration and themes of Master with Digital Spy



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