The venue flips from high school Animal House to sure-fire slaughterhouse after a vengeful veterinary assistant converts her garage into a niteclub for underage teens. Fifteen years in the business, with forty features and dozens more television credits behind her, it took The Help to finally turn Octavia Spencer into an overnight success. Since then, her career has been a veritable fountain of positivity and enlightenment. Ma adds another pair of footnotes to the actress’ well-asterisked filmography: Spencer has never been yoked to a violent evildoer, nor has a studio bestowed enough faith in her work to grant a shot at opening a picture. The potential for a double-back on the “magic Negro” theory was there, but rather than writing a new prescription for subtle social commentary, director Tate Taylor (The Help) and screenwriter Scotty Landes chose to refill an old one. There’s but one thing shittier than a slice of Minnie’s Oscar-winning pie, and that’s a slasher picture. (2019) — Scott Marks
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