Emergency is premiering on Prime Video on May 27, 2022.
Blending the genres of comedy and thriller the film is a satirical look at what it’s like to be a young Black man in America. Starring up-and-coming actors like RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins, and Sebastian Chacon, the film centers around three college students of color who intend to have the night of their lives. But their plans are quickly foiled when a white girl passes out in their living room. What ensues is a journey full of physical and metaphorical complications, most of which have to do with the color of their skin.
In an exclusive interview with Shadow and Act, the cast of Emergency talked about the film’s impactful themes and what got them interested in the project. Cyler, who plays Sean in the film, elaborated on how the film was a refreshing take on subject matters surrounding racial inequality and discrimination.
“I feel like this movie gives so many different perspectives [and] avenues…we’re showing you that it’s so many sides that are actually here [and] it’s not just a right or wrong,” Cyler told Shadow and Act. “It’s like an adjustment of perspective. That’s what made me want to be a part of it.”
Prepare yourself for this film’s Amazon debut—as you’ll not want to miss it. In the meantime, check out these 4 things you should know about Emergency…and an exclusive clip above!
The film is a feature-length adaptation of a short of the same name
Emergency was originally a short film of the same name directed by Carey Williams and written by KD Dávila. The short won the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 SXSW, which launched it onto the 2020 Black List of most popular unproduced scripts from up-and-coming screenwriters. Shortly after, the film was picked up by Temple Hill Entertainment and Amazon Studios. In an interview with The Playlist, director Carey Williams talked about the process of expanding his short into a feature-length film.
“So we made the short and went to Sundance with it, which we ended up winning. Making the feature part of it came when we were around SXSW shortly after. K.D. talks about this more like, making sure we had a reason to make a feature and not just repeating the short,” explained Williams. “I wanted to expand on the friendship between Sean and Kunle—where does that friendship go after that night; who they are as young men and what their relationship is. You know, let the audience build that care for them over the course of the film.
The film released in theaters before Prime Video
Emergency was first released in select theaters on May 20, 2022. In an interview with ReelBlend podcast, director Carey Williams revealed how ecstatic he was when he found out the film was getting a theatrical release. Saying that it was one of the things he was pushing for and that he loves the experience of going to the theater.
“Especially a film like this it needs to be in the theaters…it’s so important I feel like people need that communal experience,” said Williams. “And I hope this is the kind of movie that people walk out of and…talk to each other about some of this stuff. Because I hope this film does raise some questions. So the theatrical release, I’m so happy about that.”
One of the film's leads has firsthand experience dealing with racial profiling
RJ Cyler plays Sean, one of the film’s leads. In the film, Sean is well aware of society’s biases toward Black and brown people, which is ultimately what stops him from calling the cops. Cyler drew from his own lived experiences as a young Black man in America to breathe life into his character. Cyler could easily relate to Sean’s uneasiness around authority figures. On playing Sean and the situation that the characters are faced with, Cyler noted in an interview with Complex that he’d been in a similar situation.
“For me, the situation itself is one that I’ve dealt with, not the young girl being passed out on my floor or anything, but where you call as the victim and then you become the suspect or you call for help and then you become the person in question,” Cyler explained.
Cyler is a budding star in Hollywood, and his leading role in Emergency comes after a string of other notable features. He is best known for his roles in the films Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, in the 2017 Power Rangers reboot, and in the Black Western The Harder They Fall. He is also slated to be in the upcoming Issa Rae HBO comedy series Rap Sh*t.
The film blends comedy with social commentary
The film is a comedic take on very serious subject matters—covering issues of racism, white privilege, and police brutality. The blending of humor with social commentary in the entertainment industry is nothing new, but this film is being praised for how masterfully it’s able to do so. One reviewer for CinemaBlend said: “the movie [is] able to perform some tremendous tonal shifts without it ever feeling throttling, wrongheaded, or disingenuous. It succeeds in bringing tears to your eyes through both hilarity and intensity, and it leaves an impression.”
Seamlessly blending comedy with serious themes is not an easy feat. In an interview with Enstars the film’s director, Carey Williams spoke about how he was originally daunted by the task of striking the right balance between comedy and social commentary.
“For me, that was a thing that initially scared me about this project when it was a short was that it was tackling this through comedy, but I quickly thought, ‘No, that’s actually what makes it special.’ It was actually a unique and refreshing sort of way into present that commentary.” Williams told Enstars.