MAHOGANY DRIVE (2023)
Director: Jerah Milligan
Release Date: Slamdance '23
"Three Black men on vacay soon realize the house that they're staying in is killing white women."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Mahogany Drive has a lot to say. However, its overly flippant presentation drastically diminishes the seriousness of any underlying messages. Mahogany Drive also misses out in exploring the comedy-horror genre not terribly unlike Jordan Peele’s Get Out. All that said, the three stars of the short - Jerah Milligan, Jonathan Braylock, James III - are captivating, funny, and totally demand more time.
Mahogany Drive comes with a great premise: Three Black friends wake up to a nightmare: a dead white woman on the floor of their Airbnb.
That should have been it, man. Full stop. Let the antics proceed as the friends fumble around in a frenzy.
The friends - in an incredibly short amount of time - establish their commitment to each other and easily display all the comfort that comes in between those spaces. The humor works. As the story jumps right into the action, so too does the anxiety notch up. How do three Black dudes in an Airbnb - in a white neighborhood - explain their situation to the police? The horror aspect - it’s the house that is killing white women! - exacerbates the matter. But the joking finale douses that tension.
Written by James Carr, along with Braylock, James III, and Milligan, who directs, Mahogany Drive uses humor to tackle a number of different biases: racial dynamics, gender favoritism, and the marginalization of women. And questions are most definitely raised. Yet the glib ending evokes a frivolity in the seriousness of those points. Serious answers could still have been reached through that initial, beautiful, set up, even if that final answer was outrageously ironic.
When the wave that has been building finally crashes, the wipe out is the narrative. Milligan, Braylock, and James III have the start of something incredibly special. They simply need more time to finalize that resolution and a return to Mahogany Drive.