By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Stanford University Film graduate Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr.
makes his directorial, feature film debut with “Black Box,”
a trippy, psychological drama that’s part of Jason Blum’s “Welcome To The Blumhouse”
series that’s bowing on Amazon.
Osei-Kuffour Jr., who hails from Ghana and co-wrote “Black Box,” is best known for directing award-winning TV commercials. His short films, “Infliction” “Short Time” and “Walls” were film festival favorites from Toronto to Cannes.
“Black Box,” from screenwriters, Wade Allain-Marcus (HBO’s “Insecure”) and Stephen Herman (“Blank”) is an impressive entry in the sci-fi/horror film genre and should catapult Osei-Kuffour Jr’s filmmaking career.
In “Black Box” Mamoudou Athie (Underwater”) stars as Nolan, a young photographer trying to get his life back on track after surviving a horrific car accident that killed his wife Rachel (Najah Bradley, TV’s “Dynasty”) and has left him dazed and confused. Noah often blanks out and cannot remember much of anything. It’s good thing his young daughter Ava (a sensational Amanda Christine, TV’s “9-1-1”) is around to help him out with nearly everything.
Ava cooks, cleans, and leaves Post-It-Notes all over the house to remind Noah to do simple things. It’s an unfortunate situation for a little kid to deal with, but she manages. It’s tough especially when Noah often forgets to pick her up from school.
Those missteps result in Ava’s principal threatening to call child protective services on Noah if he can’t get his act together.
There is something much darker going on with Noah. He sees remnants of his past and there’s a creepy, backwards walking guy (Troy James, TV’s “The Flash”) that flashes in and out of his memory.
Sometimes Noah has angry outbursts although his brother Gary (a terrific Tosin Morohunfola, “The 24th”) who is a doctor and works at the medical facility where Nolan was treated is concerned because he’s always been a mild-mannered kind of guy.
Gary recommends Noah see Lillian (Phylicia Rashad, “Creed II”) who is one of the top neuroscientists at his office. Lillian explains to Noah that she can help him if he agrees to participate in an experimental form of hypnosis. He does. Soon Noah is strapped in for a mind-blowing journey that initially reveals far more from his past than either he or Lillian expected. Is he running his mind or is his mind running him?
Nolan is often unfamiliar with many of the things he sees during these sessions and they become more intense and take on new meaning when people like Thomas (Donald Elise Watkins, TV’s “MacGyver”) and Miranda (Charmaine Bingwa, TV’s “Little Sister”) pop up in his visions.
They might be the answers to Noah’s problems. Thankfully, the filmmakers don’t wrap things up as neat and tidy as you might expect. They dish up a striking big reveal.
“Black Box” is a real mind-bender that takes viewers to yet another dark and surprising sunken place.
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Look At This Trailer For "BLACK BOX"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.