Black Box packs a punch I never saw coming

Amidst a pandemic that makes filming difficult, finding a new movie to review—or even simply watch—on Prime Video is a near-impossible task, but after much persistence, I hit the jackpot. Black Box, a Prime original, was released this October. It’s free with Amazon Prime subscription and surpassed every expectation I could’ve thrown its way. 

I had no idea what the movie would be about going in. The title truly reveals nothing, but right away, I was intrigued by the mysterious actions and plotline that began instantly.

Nolan Wright (Mamoudou Athie) needed a solution and fast. He’d taken one too many tolls, all from one car crash—an accident that took his wife and his memories while leaving him with severe brain damage that should’ve killed him. Left unable to get through the day without his young, helpful daughter Ava (Amanda Christine), Nolan also needed to take care of her, something he really couldn’t do by himself in the state he’s in. Luckily, Dr. Brooks (Phylicia Rashad) pointed him towards a therapy that could restore him to his former self: the black box.  

However, his mind is playing tricks on him too, keeping him away from the memories he seeks. The movie kicked off by jumping into an intense scene that right away drew me in the story, keeping me alert for more. Nolan was instantly being choked, but the scene, just as quickly as it hard started, switched to reality. It was his subconsciousness pulling the strings of those mutilating hands that took further shape in the black box.

Nolan’s brain repeatedly attempted to shield him from something—something that took the form of a human grotesquely twisted into unnatural angles as the full embodiment of those hands. Every time it moved, the “thing” would emit consecutive, eerie, bone-cracking, and bone-breaking sounds that aggregated to a horror aspect. The film captured a stellar combination of echoing crunches and positions that were seemingly impossible, even for a contortionist, that created a chilling feeling when added with the pulsing beat in the background. This was only further intensified with the crescendoing intense rhythm and music which I could not seem to pull my attention away from. 

There seemed to always be some meaningful sounds that amplified the quality of the film; there was one part, however, that was awkwardly silent. In this instance, though, it was rightfully so. The pause of extra noises added to the uncomfortable tensions of the scene’s characters.  

The sound effects of the movie weren’t the only aspect that was spot-on. Throughout the movie, Nolan phased in and out of the black box. The graphics were seamless in depicting the process, and the dim yet contrasting lighting was perfect for the dark mood. Though this high quality is expected of newer movies, this one didn’t fail to meet the modern standards.

In fact, by adding in this twist, the movie strayed away from any stereotypical notion.”

The movie’s stellar performance didn’t stop there. Half-way through the movie, what I was expecting to happen actually unfolded in a completely different way. The plot twist was incredibly pieced together, and though it began to touch on a heavily repeated theme, it was far from cliché. The movie led into the twist in an entirely new way that wasn’t reminiscent of anything I’ve seen before. In fact, by adding in this twist, the movie strayed away from any stereotypical notion. 

To my surprise, the plot twists didn’t stop there. When the story unraveled, previous details were once again brought forth, and all questions were answered; a whole other turn of events emerged that effectively wrapped up all loose ends and also staged a satiating ending. This ending, which again was not how I expected it to turn out, still brought the satisfaction that makes watching movies worth it.

With smooth dramatic effects and such an amazing plotline, the movie was everything I was hoping for. Prime Video may not be as popular as Netflix, but the movies are just as phenomenal.