Remember all the blackploitation films from the seventies? The white movie executives figured if they put black people in lead roles that they could get them out to see movies. The films were extremely low budget and since the were written, directed and produced by old white dude, the films were racist, simple and plain to the point where I did a dissertation in college about racism in pop culture and featured clips of Shaft (if you want to see something really offensive, go to you library and hunt down old Bugs Bunny cartoons from the twenties and thirties, seriously, when I showed those to the class, everyone’s jaw was on the floor).
Fast forward three decades and now there is the CodeBlack Entertainment which is also making movies targeting the hip-hop generation, but this time around the movies are being written, directed and produced by people of color. Of course if you are not a BET regular viewer (I’ve stopped watching ever since they stopped airing 227 reruns) it is doubtful you have heard any of their movies. If you happened upon the channel last Halloween you may have seen the production company’s horror film, Somebody Help Me.
The story follows two friends, Omari Grandberry (whom you may or may not know better as Omarion) and Marques Houston (Sister, Sister) who take their girlfriends up to one of their uncle’s cabin (pay attention to the uncle’s name, I had to rewind to see if I heard what I really heard) to celebrate the twenty-first birthday of Brooklyn Sudano (My Wife and Kids). Of course things go wrong when their friends venture out of the cabin to have sex (which we don’t get to see, why have a horror movie complete with gore and F-bombs but no gratitutous nudity?) but don’t return in the morning, then one by one all of the friends are gone.
Somebody Help Me mixes three horror sub-genres as suspense, torture porn, and the more classic approach. The problem is they don’t go all the way on any of them. The torture porn doesn’t go far enough to satisfy the Hostel fans, the suspense rarely holds up because it isn’t hard to see what is coming and it doesn’t help that the friends just disappear, we don’t see anyone actually get kidnapped until late in the way too long (100 minutes) film.
The movie is at its best when they go into classic horror movie with heroes that continually make stupid choices like when they drop the shotgun they are carrying for no apparent reason. Or the inept police station where they are not allowed to talk about something mysterious that happened in the past. Then there is the bizarre appearance of a creepy young white girl (although not The Ring creepy) who for some reason only shows up every half an hour.
The movie really is only for horror addicts who need a fix until the next Saw comes out or Omarion and Houston fanatic who needs to pick up everything they do. But really Somebody Help Me is about as good as you would expect from the writer, director and stars that brought us You Got Served.
Somebody Help Me gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.