Emergency (CREDIT: Quantrell Colbert/© 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC)

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

Director: Carey Williams

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Rating: R for College Partying Gone Way Wrong

Release Date: May 20, 2022 (Theaters)/May 27, 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)

Is it an emergency if you don’t see the 2022 film Emergency as soon as possible? Its title certainly sounds urgent, and I’m sure you don’t want to find out that somebody died because you, Very Specific Theoretical Audience Member, didn’t watch one particular movie when you very easily could have. Now before I go any further, let me be clear that I’m being HYPERBOLIC. I don’t want anyone to get it twisted! Let me also be clear that you don’t have to see any movie that you don’t want to see, no matter how much everyone else is talking about it. But even after all that preamble, I’ll confidently declare that you may still want to check out Emergency, as it offers a fascinating premise that leads into horrifying, hilarious, and thought-provoking directions.

Sean (RJ Cyler) and Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) are two best buds and college roommates who just want to spend their Friday night making their way through a mythical rotation of campus parties. Well, that’s all Sean wants to do. Kunle’s on board, too, but he’s also worried about his bacteria cultures for a lab project, especially since a botched assignment could run afoul of his looming transition into grad school. But all  of that is waylaid when they discover a random semi-conscious girl (Maddie Nichols) on the floor of their apartment. Their other roommate Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) has no idea how she got there, and they immediately become concerned about the optics of three black and brown dudes hovering over a drunk white girl.

So instead of calling 911, the boys attempt to drive her to the hospital, which isn’t exactly a more prudent decision, as it leads to a series of increasingly dangerous misunderstandings. Getting the girl in an ambulance almost certainly would have been much better for everyone involved, but it’s not hard to understand their trepidation. It’s always tricky to make a movie like this one that taps into people of color’s deep-seated mistrust of authority, as it will unavoidably awaken raw emotions. So I won’t be surprised if Emergency is an automatic turn-off for some viewers. Nevertheless, I appreciate its uniquely thoughtful, grounded approach. At its core, this is a story of college kids who let a situation get out of hand, as so often happens in a college setting. The weightier threats linger because that’s just what a significant part of this country is like.

Emergency is Recommended If You Like: Maximum Tonal Discomfort

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Busted Taillights