Emergency (2022)

Carey Williams

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Donald Watkins, RJ Cyler, Sebastian Chacon, Maddie Nichols, Sabrina Carpenter, Madison Thompson, Diego Abraham

On the verge of graduating college, best friends Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and Sean (RJ Cyler) are ready to embark on an epic night of partying. They plan to be the first Black students to attend seven Spring Break parties in one night, known as a "Legendary tour", although Kunle is more concerned about finishing his mold experiment which may affect his acceptance to Princeton. Upon returning to their apartment, the friends discover their roommate Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) was too busy playing videogames to notice their front door left open and a drunk White girl passed out on their floor.

Expanded from their short film of the same name, screenwriter K.D. Dávila and director Carey Williams deliver a feature which follows the "one crazy night" premise previously covered by the likes of Superbad and Booksmart. Where Emergency differs is in utilising social relevance, as the Black and Latinx leads grapple with calling for help as the spectre of police brutality looms over them. While the aforementioned films saw their lead characters let off easily by the police, the trio here know they wouldn't be so lucky due to their race.

A particularly biting scene sees a White couple confronting the leads, shooing them away under the assumption they're drug dealers, before the camera reveals a "Black Lives Matter" sign on the couples front lawn. There's a fantastic sense of humour within, while never undercutting the unfolding tension rooted in these boys worrying for their lives. This results in desperate measures being taken to help the girl, while on their tail is Maddy (Sabrina Carpenter), the girls older sister that jumps to the wrong conclusions.

Vital to the film are the tremendous performances, as Watkins wonderfully captures Kunle's timidity and determination to achieve his academic goals, while Cyler excellently brings alive the party-first nature of Sean. Rounding off these friends is the granola-carrying Carlos, adorably played by Chacon. There's never a doubt about how much these characters adore one another, as their heartwarming friendships see them speak openly about their feelings and offer support through tough times. The performances also ensure the impact of systematic racism hits hard as, though the night may end, the haunting experiences linger on.

Emergency is available in cinemas now and on Prime Video from 27th May