Hitting all too close too home, Chickens is a jarring, raw, and chilling look at the real fear that is instilled in black and brown persons in an undeclared war between them and some of the systems set up to surround them — namely policing. Well written, directed, and edited by Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. and produced by Sam Vinal, Chickens is a must-watch, as it displays an old type of fear in a new way that should be palatable and understandable to audiences of any background.
The story begins in the middle of an incident — a Black man lays dead on the floor of a small pizza restaurant in LA, and the only other occupants are a Black couple, two police officers, and a cashier girl. After a few moments, the audience can surmise that the police officers are attempting to cover up their actions, leaving the question of what to do with everyone else hanging in the air. Choosing to protect themselves, the officers only end up digging themselves deeper into a hole of their own making, as their facade of authority is stripped away by their chickens coming home to roost.
After watching Chickens I was in tears, and I am not quite sure why. Perhaps it is because its content produces such a real feeling of anger at injustice, a feeling that is palpable for everyone at this given moment in time, Black or White or any color in between. The angry faces of the ending mob are the same faces of protesters I have seen over the past few months, and the title itself conjures up the old adage of chickens coming home to roost, famously quoted by revolutionary Malcolm X. Like a boomerang, the negative actions and energy police have historically put into overseeing certain communities comes back around.
To me, Chickens is a response video for those so inclined to ask ‘what happened before, where is the rest of the tape?”. Chickens shows the aftermath of many police shooting incidences and drives home that the aftermath is what people really should be asking about — the coverup, the justification, and the spinning of reality to fit police report narratives. Filmmaker BKM Jr. displays great talent and artistic decisions in portraying this precarious situation, splicing in visually aggressive shots, foregoing showing events leading up to the events we are shown, and shooting one of his officers’ monologues in a gripping way similar to Samuel L. Jackson’s famous speech in Pulp Fiction.
Chickens is good not only because of its relevant and chilling story but also because it is just cinematically well made and its dialogue is excellent. Its extreme story is not beyond reality, and its contemporary content is sure to start a dialogue, externally or internally, with its viewers. It is not necessarily a scary horror with jump-scares, but it is the kind of horror that Kurtz whispers in Heart of Darkness, a quiet despair at the frightening horror of the depravity of human beings and our lack of self-control or accountability. In response to police brutality, it is said that it is only a few bad apples, but it only takes one bad apple to set off a chain of all the surrounding apples spoiling rotten, until the whole barrel needs to be thrown out.
MOVIE RATING — 8.5 out of 10