Sundance 2022: EMERGENCY

GET OUT Meets THE HANGOVER in one of the funniest and socially biting films at Sundance

Emergency is a razor sharp entry in the “one crazy night” sub-genre of comedies that puts a relevant twist on the well worn formula. The film takes place the night before spring break and follows two black college students: the studious — Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and the partier — Sean (RJ Cyler) at a mostly white college. The two planned to spend their last night on campus completing a “Legendary” tour, hitting all seven frat parties in one night. The problem is when they run home to pregame, they find their front door open, and a 17 year-old white girl (Maddie Nichols) unconscious in their house; that they share with a hispanic student, the stoner — Carlos (Sebastian Chacon). The three men then charge themselves with getting the girl help, but thanks to the current state of the world, calling the cops in this situation might not be the safest bet. So the three men risk their lives to drive the girl to the hospital in Sean’s busted up minivan.

Interspersed with the requisite witty comedic situations are some thought provoking moments of reflection that dig in emotionally. Racism, friendship, toxic masculinity, sexism, Kunle and Sean spend their time delving into what it’s like to be a black man in today’s society, compounded by the minefield that is the college experience. Throughout the film there’s a palpable fear slowly instilled in our trio that director Carey Williams does an amazing job at transcending to those that may not be the most “Woke”. It’s done in a way that while not heavy handed, doesn’t shy away or lose any of its edge as the connection between the film and audience who are locked in by the third act, when the 3 men pick up a few more passengers.

While dealing out the hilarious laughs you’d expect, Emergency provokes just as well as it entertains. Unlike traditional fare in this canon, the race of the young men and societies attitudes and perceptions towards the young black men is what supplies the ultimate danger to our trio, who simply want to help, without losing their lives in the process. It’s that precarious line Carey Williams expertly toes over and over again as they get closer and closer to the hospital and encounter those that judge a book simply by its cover. Ultimately Williams does leave us with a bit of hope, but it’s not free and I appreciated that choice as a director. Emergency hit me hard, I laughed, I cried. I think it’s a film that uses humor to try and change minds in the best way possible, by allowing others to empathize through surviving “one crazy night” in another man’s shoes.

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