The Black Mass (2023) 

In the winter of 1978, a group of students were the victims of a serial killer, this story based on true events revolves around the students and the other victims in their area. 

Written by Eric Pereira, Devanny Pinn, and Brandon Slagle, and directed by Pinn, this is a lesser-seen form of true crime horror film, one that focuses on the ladies at the center of it all, on the victims and would-be victims, giving them a voice beyond just being numbers on a serial killer score card, giving them their due beyond the courtroom. These victims are of course written from the court documents and other sources, from accounts from multiple sources, as well as creative freedom when writing scenes where no one could have possibly been there. This is all done with respect for the victims and the material, it’s done with a careful touch in character building and then in how these characters are brought to the screen. The female-gaze is very much centric here even when the point of view is that of the killer. The direction here is careful to show just what is needed and yes, showing some brutal content as it is part of the story here. Yes, there are some hard to watch scenes in this film, some of them gorier than others, some of them showing almost nothing and making a bigger impact, this is a film that brings a new point of view on something so often brought to the screen.  

The cast here was clearly carefully selected and includes a mix of familiar faces for horror fans with new ones. Seeing Eileen Dietz as a concerned neighbor is fantastic. Sarah Nicklin get a central piece to the last third of the film and makes it entirely her own by bringing the viewer into her world and not letting them go. Eva Hamilton gives a similarly powerful performance, giving her character life and dignity in her difficult scenes. The cast overall is fantastic here, most of them being given hard sequences and some disturbing content to work with in most cases. Director Pinn has a part in the film as well, as is her habit and right in films she is involved in in any way, here giving us some blood in a triptastic scene right out of the 1970s. 

Speaking of the 1970s, this film hits the nail on the head when it comes to décor, costume, hair, cards, style of filming, etc. All the little details here are on point, from what looks to be the right fabrics to the way driving scenes were filmed and put together. The look of the film, reproducing film grain almost is something that adds to the story, bringing the viewers in and pulling them into the settings. The locations are pretty and dated just right. The wardrobe has the right look and colors, the right fabrics and patterns, the right mood for the time period. Hair and makeup are just right as well.  

A true crime film with some slasher inspiration, some true 1970s style, this serial killer film focuses on the victims, specifically those whose lives interconnected in Florida at the time of bell bottoms, feathered hair, and murders. This directorial debut marks a very pinpointed voice in the horror genre, one of an actress and producer finally finding the perfect material to turn into her first feature as a director. The film has a special touch of someone who understands the genre and knows how to focus the story on the victims in an effort to give them a voice above the fame killers usually get.