Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Talia Ryder, Talia Balsam, Amber Gray
In Master, Gail Bishop (Regina Hall), was recently instated as “Master,” dean of students, at an elite University based in Salem. Her colleague and friend Liv (Amber Gray) is up for review of her tenure, while first-year student Jasmine(Zoe Renee) is being harassed on all sides, in her dorm and classes. After Jasmine learns about the schools haunted and racial past, things begin to awaken in the school, causing Gail, Liv, and Jasmine to explore the politics and privilege of the institution, old and new.
This is the second Regina Hall lead film I’ve seen at Sundance 2022, and between her and Dakota Johnson’s two performances, they are sharing the podium for being the ‘Queens of Sundance’. This film is also one of two films relating to witches that have debuted this year, but executed very differently. Gail is very content with her position, but is constantly put in the position of being the only black voice in the school board. Seeing what challenges are associated with that, and the way she is treated is where a lot of the suspense and horror come from.
Jasmine is feeling that but coming from her roommates and Liv (her professor). She knows that there is a difference in how she’s being treated in this predominantly white school. once she learns the horrifying truths of the schools past with race, her own mind becomes a cave of fear and emotion that is communicated between her and the schools history. Liz seems unassuming for most of the film, but her choices and character is hiding in plain site.
If you are looking for a phycological horror story reminiscent of Get Out, with good suspense building and well-explored social political topics, then Master is for you. I think it’s acted very well by the entire cast, and though there are some moments that can feel forced, the story itself is highly engaging and one I enjoyed watching.