I’m a big fan of low-budget indie films. I don’t think that’s a surprise to many readers if you’ve read any of my previous reviews or have had the opportunity to check out my podcast. That said, I was excited to dive into Franco Clarke’s THE PILL, which is a low-budget film with a lot to say. This film was pretty different from the usual flicks I talk about here so, I was pretty excited to give it a go. Let’s just say that if you’re not aware of the continuous racial epidemic that’s been plaguing the black community for generations, then this movie will certainly be THE PILL that is hard to swallow.
The general premise of the film follows an African-American family who indulges in the use of a secret pill that helps them cope with their day-to-day stressors of racism outside of their home.
THE PILL is centered around a family consisting of a father, mother, and son. The sound in this film was a little off at some points, but please don’t let that lead you to believe that the movie was “bad” or “poorly made”. It’s a low-budget film so, I don’t expect the production to be absolutely perfect. Anyway, this family is completely beaten down by the everyday black experience in America. The father, Stanley, desperate to find an escape, contacts Sheik for some kind of substance. Sheik puts him on a pill that numbs the racism he experiences daily masked by smooth jazz and r&b, therefore, making the day-to-day tolerable. Shortly his son, Jay, and his wife, Monica, are also taking the pill.
Prior to the on-screen use of the pill, we as a viewer witness the daily racism each family member encounters. Every day contains an act of microaggression that the unaware white individual wouldn’t even bat an eye at. Being in an interracial marriage and half of my family being black, there were a handful of things that were said that I’ve witnessed firsthand in real life. I could appreciate how these moments were framed in this film because it didn’t spin it in a comedic light. It was harsh and realistic. This might make it unappealing to some viewers but to that, I say how lucky of you to be able to just turn it off and not experience it.
As the film progresses, we see how this pill is bringing the family closer together and making their lives easier. That is until their “stash” begins to run low and the pill seems to no longer work the way it had been. The family begins to unravel from the racism they experience that they were previously able to numb and ignore. However, this does open up a racial conversation between Stanley and Monica and their daily antagonists, which I found to be kind of funny but also extremely cringe. I believe this was a solid swing at some comedic relief, but it could also be digested as a serious moment in the film.
While THE PILL isn’t really a horror movie per se. It does very much touch on the horrors of the American experience for any regular black individual. It may seem “harmless” or “exaggerated,” but this film was pretty damn honest when it came to the reality we live in. If you’re feeling confident in your righteousness and think that you don’t have racist thoughts, I challenge you to check out THE PILL and see how hard it is for you to swallow.
THE PILL played as a part of this year’s Indie Memphis Film Festival.