Atmospheric and enchanting, A Black Rift Begins to Yawn is a meditative, melodic art piece as much as it is a film. Beautiful scoring and sound design uplift the deep blacks and saturated colors of stunning cinematography as the visuals overtake the minimal dialogue. There is a quiet, lonely mood to A Black Rift Begins to Yawn, even within the first few moments, as Laura (Sara Lynch) and Lara (Saratops McDonald) take in the vast vista surrounding them, cups of coffee in hand, distracted only by the chirping of birds and bugs. Moments become long, lingering minutes as the sun continues to rise–and this sets the mood for an art house film based in long takes and slow burns.

Borrowing, with love and respect, from H.P. Lovecraft’s A Shadow Out of Time, which provides the titular line for A Black Rift Begins to Yawn, Matthew Wade’s second feature film takes horror and art and makes a loving homage–and in a way, a shrine. Beautiful in-camera effects, using light and playing with visual planes make each frame a portrait–like the best of Kubrick meets the cinematographic magic of Caro and Jeunet. Lush colors wash over the images like watercolors, spilling from scene to scene with abandon. The power of stillness is ever present–causing breath to catch in our chests as we stare in slack-jawed awe.

Details, devilish details from the intricate and unreal soundscape created by sound designer Jacob Kinch to the agonizingly slow shifts in long, lingering scenes–to the point that at several key moments I thought, perhaps, the screener had frozen or I’d accidentally paused. However, the complex and winding reality created both in our real world and in the fictional world of the film only provides a halting distraction from a lack of deeper story. All of the beauty in the world can’t hide that this story has minimal meat to bite into–little to dig your hands into and get dirty. In the form of a meditation or an experience, this film is magic–it is cosmic–and it is infinite. In terms of a narrative, it’s lacking–in spite of phenomenal performances, and clearly being directed by someone with a great love of film and respect for his actors.

If you’re looking at the title and synopsis of A Black Rift Begins to Yawn and hoping for a sci-fi thriller, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Go in with an open mind and heart–keep your eyes open, listen carefully. This is an experience. This is something that you should allow to wash over you and fill you, from beginning to end. As soon as I stopped worrying about when the climax was coming or when the scares or surprises might hit, it felt like I was sinking into a warm bath of beautiful lights and sounds. Get in the headspace and you’ll have the time of your life – in this dimension, and beyond.

A Black Rift Begins to Yawn premiered at Slamdance 2021.

6.5 out of 10


A Black Rift Begins to Yawn
RATING: NR No Trailer Available
Runtime: 1 hr. 42 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: Matthew Wade



About the Author: Miranda Riddle

Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.