When I see a film described with the words “horror” or “thriller”, my mind immediately waits for blood or gore. While I was trying to figure out when the scary theme was going to rear its head, I realized it unfolded the moment the brilliant film TEST PATTERN started.
Here’s the synopsis: “Part psychological horror, part realist drama, “Test Pattern” unfolds against the backdrop of national discussions around inequitable health care and policing, the #MeToo movement, and race in America. The film follows an interracial couple whose rock-solid relationship is put to the test when Renesha, a Black woman played by Brittany S. Hall, is sexually assaulted. Her white boyfriend (Will Brill) insistently pursues a rape kit and is met with medical and administrative incompetence at every turn. The film analyzes the effects of the systemic factors and social conditioning women face when navigating sex and consent within the American patriarchy, along with exploring institutional racism from a Black female point of view.”
The underlying monster crawled out of traumatic scenes that were slayed by physical and psychological warfare. The musical soundscape (by Robert Ouyang Rusli) is like its own character enriched in diversity…all those eclectic sounds coming together as one against the unraveling of a nation in consistent conflict.
I love how director Shatara Michelle Ford’s debut film dissects the misogyny and racism that Black women endure under society’s cloak and systematic microscope, while wearing the contrasting mask of classism.
The notion that Renesha (phenomenally played by Hall) is dwelling in spaces that she thought were safe evokes horrific levels of anxiety. Watching her white boyfriend Evan (a candid turn by Brill) explore his instincts added intense layers to what seems like a reassuring demeanor.
Sexual assault is the villain that puts their close relationship to the test as they go through uncomfortable social patterns that may be familiar to Renesha but foreign to Evan. The inevitable shift of their connection confronts a blatant reality many are not ready to talk about. Ford’s film puts that conversation out there with an unapologetic, unique cinematic language. I rate it 5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
TEST PATTERN opened February 19 in virtual theaters through Kino Marquee. Get additional info at kinomarquee.com.
Samantha Hollins, aka Ghetto SongBird, is a multi-talented Rock singer/songwriter, guitarist, poet/writer, photographer and all around creative soul who passionately enjoys sharing her positive artistic energy and harmonic vibes. You can follow her group The Culture Rock Griot on Facebook and get additional information at her site Theculturerockgriot.com.