Why was The Blackening cast interview so scary (and funny)?

The Blackening - Courtesy Lionsgate
The Blackening - Courtesy Lionsgate /

First off, technically other actors besides Dewayne Perkins, X Mayo, Jermaine Fowler, Sinqua Walls, Antoinette Robertson, and Melvin Gregg, a.k.a. The Blackening cast (well, most of it), also participated in the roundtable interview.

For instance, the movie’s director, Tim Story, was also there. He was paired with Tracy Oliver, who co-wrote the comedy horror movie with Dewayne Perkins.

Speaking of pairings, 1428 Elm was paired with Halloween Daily News for the interview with the cast of The Blackening.


I hate to admit it, but this was not my finest interview. Luckily, Matt from Halloween Daily News asked a couple of questions I’d meant to —if I hadn’t suffered a partial meltdown at the last second.

What went wrong? Two things.

First, analysis paralysis. I’d worked up a variety of questions., which I normally do. The trouble was, I didn’t pick exactly which one to ask The Blackening cast first. I thought I’d figure it out when the time came. Nope. Indecision crippled me. That’s what kicked my anxiety into overdrive.

But at the same time, I was struck with…what? I almost always have a small case of butterflies before interviews, but this time…yowser. I’d never been on a call with that many beautiful, talented, funny people before. I really enjoyed The Blackening, and once I found myself in a virtual Zoom room with the cast, director and writers, I was helplessly starstruck.

I did my best to fight through it. However, as you’ll read —or hear, if you watch the video of their answers, which is included below— you’ll see what I mean. Luckily, The Blackening cast, director, and writers are consummate pros and they worked with what (little) I gave them.

Transcript from The Blackening cast interview roundtable

The Blackening cast
The Blackening – Courtesy Lionsgate /

1428 Elm: I’ll start with Tracey and Dewayne…was it more fun writing the script or the questions for the game.

Dewayne Perkins: Personally, I would say it was more fun writing the script. I mean, writing the questions for the game was a part of writing the script. Kind of hand in hand. But the script in totality, I feel like once that was completed, that was like a fun experience. I would pick the script.

Tracy Oliver: I would agree with that.

Halloween Daily News: Thanks for talking to us, guys. It’s a pleasure. I really loved this movie and as you can see, we love our Halloween movies here at Halloween Daily News, but I do think that every holiday deserves its own go-to slasher. And I think that’s what you guys have delivered with this film. I’m wondering how much of that was on your mind that this might be a repeat, annual viewing for horror fans, much like how we watch our favorite Halloween movies every October.

Melvin Gregg: I feel like this is a movie that you can watch any time of the year, not specifically Juneteenth. That’s just the date we decided to give it to the world.

Jermaine Fowler: Yeah, we set out to make a great film, and, you know, we just want to have fun, do something awesome with each other.

Antoinette Robertson: But also we wouldn’t mind if it becomes a complete cult classic and people want to watch it every single year on Halloween and on Juneteenth.

Melvin Gregg: And on Christmas.

X Mayo: And on Father’s Day.

Dewayne Perkins: And on Arbor Day.

Sinqua Walls: And on Kwanza:

{The whole Blackening cast starts laughing}

Melvin Gregg: And during Pride Month.

X Mayo: That’s right, Melvin. Happy Pride. (As Gregg fist bumps Perkins.)

Dewayne Perkins: Melvin’s an ally, Jermaine is not.

{All laugh again.}

X Mayo: Please spread that.

{More laughing.}

1428 Elm: You guys are so funny. Are you prepared, all of you can answer this one, for this to be a hit? Because in my screening, everybody was howling. I mean, it’s…you guys nailed this. So are you ready for that?

Dewayne Perkins: Yassss.

{The Blackening cast, Tim Story and Tracy Oliver laughing again.}

Sinqua Walls: Hell, yeah!

Jermaine Fowler: I hope so, Courtney.

X Mayo: Yeah. Jermaine’s ready. He already told us to start addressing him as Mr. Fowler. Now I have to speak to him through an assistant.

Jermaine Fowler: It’s very true.

Side note: After this, the entire The Blackening cast launched into an impromptu riff. Watch the video to see it. But it ended with Perkins confirming, “So yeah, I’m ready. It’s a hit, Courtney.”

Halloween Daily News: Absolutely. I agree. I think it’s definitely going to be a hit. I think audiences are going to love it. Um, now I was curious as far as the balance. Because it is a very funny movie. I was laughing out loud, but it is also a horror movie. It’s definitely a horror comedy. So can you talk a little bit about keeping that delicate balance of delivering the scares but also the laugh out loud moments as well.

Sinqua Walls: I think it’s just like being present in the scene, and being connected to the material. Playing it…if it’s funny, play it funny. If it’s supposed to be scary, live in that moment. Make it as authentic as possible. Nothing disingenuous. That’s how I feel.

Jermaine Fowler: Yeah, like the comedy is connected to the trauma in the horror, so as long as that was kind of prevalent in the writing, it’s going to be there in the acting.

Melvin Gregg: Submit yourself to the moment.

X Mayo: Oh my God, Denzel, please. No, but Melvin was right. I will say there was a moment where me and Antoinette, when we are going to back and forth about whether or not she’s gonna stab the killer in his boot, and so I asked Antoinette if she would be willing to do like a little hysteria back and forth, and we were just screaming at each other. So even though in that moment where it was like horror and a typical thriller moment where we’re scared trying to figure this out, there was some comedy that we found in that moment and I think that’s because she’s such a giving actor, she’s willing to play. So I know that I can pitch anything to her. So I feel like that’s where a lot of comedy came from, which is surprise. Like there were things that we found in the moment that were maybe stereotypically just horror, but there was a lot of fun that we found.

Jermaine Fowler: It was the opposite with me.

Antoinette Robertson: Oh, wow! {All The Blackening cast laughs.} It feels like if we were very mindful of keeping the gravity of the situation and keeping the tension there, then the comedic moments would soar. So it felt like…it just felt like a really great balance. I don’t know if it’s…of course the writing’s amazing and then Tim is wonderful as a director, but I just feel like it’s attributed to these amazing individuals around me and the fact that they kind of went for their instincts. And so they stayed in the moment, they stayed present, they kept the moments of terror grounded and that way they got to improv and say the amazing lines that Dewayne and Tracy created and it just kind of took flight.

1428 Elm: Speaking to that with the terror and the horror, you all look like you had a lot of fun making this movie. And I read the production notes this morning and you’re all…like now, you’re very complimentary. And you can see that come across on the screen. But were there any scenes, whether they were scary or horror (I meant to say funny) that you guys just had…you had to redo them because you were either laughing too much or having too much fun?

Jermaine Fowler: You know, it was really uncomfortable being chased by a white dude in a Blackface mask. You know what I’m saying?

X Mayo: Oh, yes, for you.

Jermaine Fowler: Just like literally it was hard. Like, what are we…eh. It was uncomfortable a lot of times. But that was for me.

Antoinette Robertson: Let’s talk about not being able to keep a straight face with Jermaine Fowler in the room. Between Jermaine and Melvin and  X and Dewayne, I wish we got to work together more, but it just…they legitimately like went crazy and there were moments that I was supposed to be serious that I had to bite the insides of my cheeks because they just kept doing off the wall things every single take and it was so great that Tim kind of let them play, ’cause it just…it was so much fun.

Melvin Gregg: Jermaine would do bits while we were filming off camera. Like they’d be filming here and he’d be beside me telling jokes and I’d be like {motions with elbow like poking in his side, which made everybody crack up}.

Side note: This led to another time The Blackening cast had a lot of fun riffing with each other. It ended with Gregg saying, “He was getting a kick out of saying things that made us uncomfortable. Like (mimics voice of Jermaine’s character, “Clifton”), “Is that d**k I smell?” (Referring to a funny line from the movie.)

{Which cracked up the whole cast again}

X Mayo: Oh, I forgot about that. I forgot about that.

Jermaine Fowler: We didn’t keep that did we?

{The cast nods and assures him it’s in there. Then they have fun mimicking “Clifton’s” voice again and talking about that scene.}

Halloween Daily News: Oh man, I love it. There’s some fun horror references and Easter eggs for genre fans. And I was wondering I guess for Tim and Dewayne and Tracy, can you talk a little about the influences, previous genre films that audiences might be familiar with that you wanted to try and pay a little homage to here and there?

Tracy Oliver: I would say from the very beginning Dewayne and I talked about Scream and just kind of that being maybe the closest thing we could come up with tonally to what we were going for. Because Scream is very entertaining and fun, but also has scares. We wanted to do something really commercial and fun, we knew that. And we also talked about Scary Movie. And while it was hilarious, we didn’t think it was grounded enough for what we were trying to do here. Because we wanted these characters to feel like real people and that the stakes should feel somewhat real. Like if you don’t believe that they’re actually in harm’s way, then the suspense doesn’t really play out. So we wanted to just kind of make sure that it felt grounded enough in a way that Scary Movie probably wasn’t. We also talked about Saw, and I think Saw because of the game aspect of it and someone kind of like toying with them and they don’t really know why they’ve been chosen in this way, and why they’re being made to play a game.

And then, what am I missing? Is that everything?

Dewayne Perkins: There was like Cabin in the Woods

Tracy Oliver: Oh, yes, Cabin in the Woods. Yeah.

Dewayne Perkins: We watched You’re Next, ’cause that was like a home invasion type of a movie. There was a lot that we pulled from. But we also just generally had a good wealth of knowledge about horror.

Watch The Blackening cast interview

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Visit Lionsgate to learn more about The Blackening, which releases in theaters on June 16.