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Master (2022): A Review


"Master" is Chock Full of Social Commentaries

Master is a 2022 drama/horror/mystery film streaming on the Amazon Prime platform. This movie is ominous, dark, and full of foreboding. It is complex and edgy at its center, not to mention chock full of social commentaries. Mariama Diallo dives under the covers of societal constructs and roots up the ugliness. But, unsurprisingly, there is no beauty beneath those ashes; only gnarled bones. 


The title gives much attention to the premise of the film. Not quite indicative of mastery but rather a term relative to the relationship of a superior to one of lesser status. Even more so, a term with an archaic meaning dating back to 1619, a phrase sure to amass fear in the hearts of the American slave. As sure as the term master has a menacing context with explosive subtexts, so does the film.

A Loaded Minefield

Master is rather explosive, especially regarding racism and the subtexts that seek to define or nullify such ideas. Diallo rips open the subjects of race relations, cultural misappropriation, elitism, classism, and microaggression and forces her viewers to look at them in a creative context. For the astute, the entire movie could be seen as a study of the deep-rooted natures of these concepts in current society. That is horrifying within itself without the addition of a monster.

Tread with Caution

The story ironically begins at an institution of higher learning, the place where exploration brings about insight and understanding. However, it appears that our significant characters are unschooled. Therefore, they have much to learn. The two primary characters of focus are Jasmine, an incumbent student, and Gail Bishop, a newly minted headmaster, and for both, school is in session.


When first introduced to Jasmine, she is green as a tender sapling. However, her innocence is expected as it is her first time on campus. Jasmine is unprepared. 

On her first day, she is met with an unparalleled weirdness, belying rationality. Her innocence is evident. Where most would find her encounters preposterous, she doesn’t question the oddities. She instead absorbs them and tries to rise above them. One could assume this is an adaptability mechanism; Jasmine’s desire to fit in. Unfortunately, her attempts are to no avail. This continues throughout the film. Despite being bombarded with microaggressions and horrific relics of a horrifying past, Jasmine never gets a clue, none rouses her sense of alarm. 


Gail is relishing her new position. This is an accomplishment she has worked to achieve. It is a new position for her, and it is a historic win for the college. They have never had a Black individual as a master. Even more so, they have never had a Black female master. Gail is also oblivious to the ominous happenings, at least on a deeper level. Her victory clouds her judgment for Gail is also a victim of micro aggressive behavior. Yet despite her experience in the world, she ignores them. Instead, she pushes young Jasmine to do the same. 


A Deep Evil

The undercurrent of evil in Master is prominent. The spookiness builds frame by frame. There is some sickening and disturbing imagery. One stand-out moment is when the new master discovers a painting of herself in her new accommodations. Upon the discovery, she also uncovers an alarming find. Her portrait is infested with maggots. At points such as these, Master is a very uncomfortable film to watch. 

Major Distractor a Potential Flaw

Master has a significant distractor. Diallo infuses a familiar horror element, the witch. Although befitting the story’s location of New England, the witch element is not a sensible tie to the theme. The addition of the witch element redirects the viewers’ attention. This is possibly a misstep since this element is never fully explored. The aspect does provide context to the understanding that the university has a history as Jasmine is inundated with musings of hauntings upon her first few weeks. The hauntings are said to be provoked by the witch who fell subject to the witch trials and it is she who is believed to be the force behind the macabre history. However, the lack of full closure or tie into the events feels haphazard, sort of like a loose shoestring. 

Witches and Monsters, Oh My!

Diallo also introduces the idea of a monster which one presumably concludes is the witch in her otherworldly form, but there is no clarification. Our Jasmine has a singular premonition, well the viewer glimpse this monstrous element. Naturally, the monsters’ intentions are not flowery but that is what monsters do: Bring about death and destruction. It is the promise of the presence which strikes the depths of fear. This monstrous element doesn’t exactly fit. 

Turning Point

Jasmine’s fate is a turning point in the film. Our third titular character takes center stage. Liv, who poses as a colleague of Gail’s, is also a Black woman up for tenure, at least presumably. However, she has a secret, which does not stop her reach. The circumstances of Jasmine’s fate and her fate are intertwined. Nevertheless, Gail’s later discovery of Liv’s truth leads to her unraveling. Gail comes face to face with her harsh lessons. 

The master is not the master after all but a shadow figure. Gail’s allusion becomes the base for the propitiation of unimaginable horrors. She is the tool of the genuine monsters and the price of her allusion, inclusion. this is a powerful message

Final Viewpoint

The subject of Master could be unpalatable for some viewers. Those sensitive to matters of race may find it difficult to digest. The director teases the concept of blurred lines, questioning where the distinction between subtle racism and blatant hate is. The line is fine indeed.

This movie takes it to the limits of what is socially acceptable. Master exposes some ugly truths. Yet, even when the carcass is laid open, there is no intention to remove the rot. There is too much comfortability with the status quo. Undeniably, the realness is the most horrifying factor. If you are searching for a horror film with dark social undertones, add Master to your list of must-sees.


Master (2022) Official Prime Video Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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