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Bullying never yields positive results, for the bullied nor the bully. The former holds that trauma and anguish for the rest of their lives, and the latter either trudges forward with that toxic mentality or ends up harboring tremendous guilt themselves. Horror films have taught us this morality lesson for many years, from “Carrie” to “Prom Night,” from “Terror Train” to “Slaughter High,” all the way to the recent first chapter of “It.” Each and every one of these films manages to interweave that anti-bullying message into something entertaining and/or poignant, with most of them having a hint of irony that injects the point-of-view in a way that’s lasting and effective.
On the surface, “Thriller” is refreshing. The majority of horror films of this ilk have traditionally – and for far too long – been populated by white suburbanites. So, it’s nice seeing representation, by a largely Black and brown cast, that feels authentic. The interplay between the cast of young up-and-comers is genuine, though it sadly isn’t enough to overcome the rote material that they have been saddled with. And that’s where “Thriller’s” moments of freshness cannot overcome the staleness at its core. The film lacks a single central character to saddle the burden of the group’s guilt, and at just over 80 minutes, there isn’t enough time to develop this ensemble outside of their archetypes, even with the inspired angle.
Film - Jackson - Horror - Film - Drama
That becomes more unfortunate as the film progresses, as Jackson has clearly studied what makes a great horror film and knows that putting the human drama first heightens the tension. With that element not quite clicking into place, the difficulty in caring about the human...
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