Parents' Guide to

Master

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Horror/thriller addresses racism; violence, language.

Movie R 2022 98 minutes
Master Movie Poster

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This is an effective if not quite successful use of horror movie conventions to make an old New England university a symbol of institutional racism in the United States. It doesn't take long to realize that the scariest and most cringe-worthy moments in Master don't involve maggots infesting the dark corners of an old house or legends of murderous witches. Arguably the most horrific scene involves Jasmine, an incoming Black freshman in a school that we soon learn is about 99% White. She goes to a party, is subtly coerced into making out with her roommate's boyfriend, and then shortly after sees a group of White frat bros aggressively yelling along to the "N" words in a hip-hop song. The realness is what makes it as unpleasant as any horror movie scene with its oblivious racism and entitlement.

Therein lies the problem with Master. The head fakes of witchcraft and maggoty symbolism don't work, and one can't help but think that if they weren't there, there would be no need for Regina Hall's character to dispense with all subtlety by spelling it all out for everyone near the end of the movie. The hypocrisy and oblivious bad behavior of privilege, particularly in many institutions of higher learning, is enough, and any uses of The Scarlet Letter or the Puritans who still dress like Puritans in the village near the college come across as superfluous. It manages to hold on to the end, barely, but there's a lingering sense of the movie trying to cover too much ground in both story and subject matter, leaving some of these topics that are worthy of much more being handled in a hamfisted way.

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming: March 18, 2022
  • Cast: Regina Hall , Zoe Renee , Amber Gray
  • Director: Mariama Diallo
  • Inclusion Information: Female directors, Black directors, Female actors, Black actors
  • Studio: Amazon
  • Genre: Horror
  • Run time: 98 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: Language and some drug use.
  • Last updated: October 12, 2023

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