I put this film on to watch without knowing the synopsis or what it's all about until the plot started to come together and make sense. The only thing I knew before watching was that it's a psychological horror so I was prepared for some scary scenes.
More so, seeing Regina Hall on the film poster, I was eager to watch because this is an outstanding African American actress who has come far in the film industry and I'd never seen her in a horror flick before.
Master (2022), a psychological horror written and directed by Mariama Diallo, focuses on Jasmine (played by Zoe Renee) a coloured lady who resumes as a freshman at Ancaster University, a predominantly white institution in New England. At the same time, we see Gail Bishop (played by Regina Hall) moving her things into an apartment as the first black “master” in the same institution.
Jasmine is however shunned when some students discover she's posted into "the room". She learns that a black student called Margaret Millet occupied the room a long time ago and she was presumed to be a witch. She was tortured and later hung herself in the room. Jasmine learns that Margaret's ghost haunts whoever occupies the room and kills the student at 3:33 on December 3rd.
This scary tale as well as a ghost or maybe witch in a black cloak starts to haunt Jasmine and mess with her mind. Will she end up like other black students who occupied the room before or will the Master help her survive the rife racism and microaggressions that haunt the institution?
I know the last film I reviewed touches on the sensitive subject of racism and so does this one. First, this film is a combination of mystery and then racism. It's described as a psychological horror but I don't see it as such. I watched expecting some terrifying scenes but all I saw was mere suspense rooted in mystery.
The plot is great and well written, the cast is excellent and so is their acting (I love Regina Hall) but there is so much concentration on trying to create scary scenes of ghost/witch hauntings that the brilliant story takes a back seat. This, I believe, totally killed this film.
I admit the storyline is one we have seen in several films but the director did not do a good job with execution, in my opinion. Viewers are left wondering at the end of the film what the real message is —a ghost haunting or a systemic racial issue?
I see Master (2022) as a metaphor. Though Jasmine is haunted by a figure in a black cloak which scares and pushes her to take drastic but sad action, there's also a haunting of a group of people not only in the university but also in today's society. Therefore the metaphorical ghost is simply racism.
This film shines the light on institutional racism among students and staff alike. There are three ladies, two are main characters and the other a supporting character, yet their separate stories and experiences have the same spirit —the effect of racism.
These stories are told from different angles for which the director deserves a commendation but it's difficult to separate them from the real scenes. The director did not clarify the differences between the symbolism and what was real. I think it would have made more sense to harmonize the two themes, thereby making it easier for viewers to appreciate the film.
Would I recommend this film? I'm not sure but it's worth watching if you want to familiarise yourself with the sensitive issues that are rife in our modern society. Beware, you may not be satisfied with the ending and how the characters turned out.
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Other images are screenshots from the movie