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Queen Rising rises above clichés

Updated: Jun 19

Director Princeton James embarks on his foray into the horror and mystery genre with his debut film, 'Queen Rising,' a production from Nero Studios. Allison Chaney and Henry E. Reaves III collaborated on the screenplay, which chronicles the journey of Madison (portrayed by April Hale), a schoolteacher grappling with financial hardships. Guided by the advice of her co-worker Greg (Xamon Glasper), who harbors hopes of transcending the friend zone, Madison seizes a potentially life-altering book deal, a testament to her unwavering resilience and indomitable determination.

As Madison immerses herself in the research for her debut novel, she stumbles upon the chilling secrets of her enigmatic past, particularly the horrifying tale of the 'College Town Slayings.' With each revelation, the suspense thickens, hinting that these haunting events may still cast a long, ominous shadow over her present.

"Queen Rising" introduces us to a young Madison who lives with her mother, sister Brooke, and the mom's trifling boyfriend. Early on, the audience learns that Madison is not to be played with when her mom's beau has an unfortunate indecent involving a breakfast staple in the Black community.

The script then sets up Madison's story and crafts a domino narrative for Madison and Greg to interact as the former tells her story about her college love life to the latter. The creatives use a flashback scene to delve into events possibly leading to the 'College Town Slayings.' Since black doesn't crack, April Hale plays the present-day Madison and her college-age counterpart. We also see the significance of the title 'Queen Rising' in the flashback scenes, hinting at Madison's transformation and empowerment.

Fans of the horror and thriller genre will pick up on where the film ultimately goes with the narrative. April Hale and Xamon Glasper do what they can with the material, but the film eschews Lifetime vibes, opting for a more intense and suspenseful atmosphere. Thankfully, that's a vibe I like, so I stuck with the movie for its short run time.

While the film has a limited budget and some questionable acting and melanin film cliches, Jordan Danel's sharp cinematography is impressive, and the third-act twists come off naturally. "Queen Rising" isn't an award-worthy cinema, but fans of the content readily available on Tubi and BET+ should give it a look.

Final Grade: B-

"Queen Rising" is  AVAILABLE ON VIDEO ON DEMAND on Tuesday, June 18, 2024


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