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LAFF Review: Director Deon Taylor Explores Real Life Racial Horror in ‘Supremacy’

LAFF Review: Director Deon Taylor Explores Real Life Racial Horror in 'Supremacy'

Director Deon Taylor’s dramatic
thriller "Supremacy," centers on any black family’s worst nightmare: being held
hostage by an Aryan Brotherhood member just released from a 14-year prison

Based on a true story, the film follows Tully
(Joe Anderson), as he is just released from prison, and is picked up by
an Aryan Brotherhood groupie, Doreen (Dawn Oliveri). Later, a
police officer stops their car and Tully murders him. Escaping the scene, they
break into a black family’s old farmhouse, headed by Mr. Walker (Danny
) and his young wife Odessa, played by a rough and tumble Lela
. As Tully and Doreen plot their escape and wreak havoc on the
family, a shrewd Mr. Walker attempts to negotiate with Tully.

What’s most interesting about the film is the
way family dynamics and conflict come to head as danger ensues. A young boy in
the house ponders if Doreen and Tully will kill his family as they make
sandwiches in the eerie kitchen, while Odessa warns her young daughter Cassie
that she shouldn’t have had two children in the first place. The film also reveals
an interesting paternal tension between Mr. Walker and his son, a police
officer played by Derek Luke.

It is refreshing to see Lela Rochon in a starkly different role
than we’ve seen her in past films, where her beauty and sex appeal tended to
take precedent. Here, she is stripped down, without makeup with a tattoo on her
neck and messy wig, just trying to save her family, and get out of the house.
In one of the most moving scenes, she talks openly and honestly to Tully,
unafraid of the violence he’s committed. It’s scary and comforting as her
humanity strikes something in him.

Shot on 16mm film, Taylor utilizes his horror film background to
render a sense of dread and danger in the grainy darkness and shadows of the
aged interior house location, which often feels haunted. However, the complex
visual design doesn’t always match the tone of the film, especially in scenes
where Tully and Doreen’s overt racism is supposed to intimidate or feel
dangerous. Many racially-offensive lines are actually quite funny and forced,
especially a line from Doreen telling Odessa that her name should be something
like “Shaniqua,” or Tully calling Cassie’s baby a “niglet,” but perhaps that’s
the point; to pinpoint how insane racism is to the point of humor.

However, in a film about such grave subject matter, we expect
Tully’s character to evoke something more in us- fear, loathing, anger- but
that never really happened for me. In a super-charged performance, he elicits
empathy and curiosity, but not much else. I wanted to feel more for him, but I
knew only of his actions in this house and that did little to reveal character
as much as it showcased the Aryan views he subscribed to.

In the end, "Supremacy" rests on a premise that makes for high
drama and surprise, though it’s not always executed. It’s the stuff of
nightmarish fiction but the nonfiction source material adds a level of depth to
its commentary on racism and race relations in America today. You never know
who could be coming through your front door, and how to negotiate with the
hatred they may bring.    

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The real story had nothing to do with racism. Scully was an Aryan brotherhood member but he was not a southerner, he grew up in San Diego. The family he held hostage was white and it was out of desperation. For some reason he let two go because one said he had a medical appointment. Then they didn’t want to leave the house. The girl that he was with Moore was the girlfriend of a fellow inmate. The last 9 years of his final prison sentence he spent nine years in a row isolated from other prisoners. He was paroled in 1994 and immediately violated and was sent back to Pelican Bay. He originally started his prison sentence in Corcoran where the guards were holding gladiator fights between prisoners. Then the guards would shoot into crowds. Scully was shot twice by guards , forced to fight in gladiator games and then he ended up being punished by being transferred to a harsher prison at Pelican Bay where they would hold him in islolation 24 hours a day there was a slot to pass food through his door and he would even exercise alone. The Sheriff’s deputy was hispanic not black and scully shot him because he did not want to go back to Pelican Bay. Scully and Moore had stopped in front of a restaurant, they had not returned to San Diego like they were supposed to for scully to check in with his parole officer. The restaurant owner called the police because he though that they were going to rob him. The couple parked in another parking lot. When deputy Trejo ran the plates he found the truck was registered to Moore. Scully was in violation of his parole because he did not show up in San Diego,he also was a felon in possession of an illegal sawed off shot gun that was sawed off too short and a pistol. When the Dupty asked for license and registration Moore funbled with her wallet and papers and Scully pointed the the sawed off shotgun at the deputy, diosarmed the deputy and made the duty get on his knees. He then killed the deputy, that’s when they went to the house in a panick and held the white family hostage. The REAL story is about how abuses and isolation in the California prison system turned a young man who was homeless, addicted to drugs and in juvenile detentions before he was even a tennager, a troubled youth, into a cold blooded murder unable to think farther ahead than his next action, not being able to appreciate consequences of his actions and fearing returned to the isolation and torture of Pelican Bay that he was willing to kill a cop and risk the death penalty to avoid going back. He did not shoot any member of the white family and the real story has nothing to do with racism. It’s like Bad Asses where the real story was a white elderly man who was attacked by a young black man on a bus and he fought back and beat his attacker. So that wouldn’t play well for hollywood so the changed the old white man to an old hispanic man and the young black assailant to a white skinhead. In the two sequals they added and elderly black man as another "Bad Ass" and ironically that elderly black man was also played by Danny Glover.


This looks like a remake of the movie Fight For Your Life aka Stayin Alive from 1977.


Bench Warrant just issued for Deon!


I concur with Foxy. I really wish someone would do an article about who Deon Taylor really is and how his company, formerly Deon Taylor Enterprises and now Hidden Empire Film Group, doesn't pay their crew.


Deon Taylor and Roxanne Avent his producer are major ripoff artists. They owe money all around town to black crews and are in constant litigation. It is sad that they continue to curry favor with unsuspecting people who care about black film.

Not Convinced

I'm still suspect about this story. Clicked on the link in the story, and it doesn't even name the suspect or the race of the family…only talks about the sheriff gunned down BEFORE the incident (which did get the shooter the death penalty). Check these: 'sonoma sheriff memoriam page and sfgate article by george snyder on 7-4-97. Perp;s name robert walter scully, jr. Still nothing about the family being Black or anything that happened to them.


I sure would like to see this movie – will it be available soon?


Whoa I didn't recognize Lela Rochon in the above picture.

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