Life & Culture

Film review: Emergency

This hectic comedy thriller has a storyline too flimsy and reductive to work as a fully fledged post-race commentary piece



Cert: 15 | ★★★✩✩

Director Carey Williams tackles some pressing issues ranging from racism, class inequality and colourism in this hectic thriller comedy which is based on his award-winning 2018 short.

Written by K.D. Dávila, Emergency had its debut at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will be premiering on Amazon Prime in the UK. The film follows the trials and tribulations of three college roommates of colour who find themselves in a sticky situation when faced with an unexpected event.

Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and his best friend, Sean (RJ Cyler), are both seniors at a prestigious university who are about to embark on an epic night out as Spring Break activities get on the way. Sean has the whole night planned out, while Kunle is mostly concerned with finishing his experiment in the lab.

Arriving back at their apartment in between parties, the duo soon realise that their roommate, Carlos (Sebastian Chacon), left the front door wide open. Sean and Kunle soon discover a drunk, semi-conscious white girl they don’t know on the floor of their living room and an oblivious Carlos, who didn’t hear her come in. Consequently, the friends find themselves arguing about whether they should risk calling the police or an ambulance which could spell a whole lot of trouble for them as three young men of colour.

While there is a lot to like about this understated thriller comedy, tonally the film unfortunately often falls back on tired old hackneyed stoner schtick and dated slapstick ideas.

Granted, this has some great performances from all involved, but there is undeniably something about Emergency that often falls short of its brilliant premise and timely message.

Tackling everything from class inequality in higher education, to police brutality and racial profiling, Emergency’s storyline is too flimsy and reductive to fully work as a fully fledged post-race commentary piece. Still, there are some aspects of the message that feel more real than others, even if the comedy is more than a little superfluous and misjudged at best.

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