Film and TV

There’s a new horror film called Karen and it looks truly, truly awful

Josh Milton June 22, 2021
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Tanya Manning in Karen, smiling as she cocks her head to the side

Tanya Manning in Karen. (Screen capture via YouTube)

A trailer for a new Karen film starring Orange Is the New Black’s Taryn Manning has gone down about as well as you’d expect.

Director Coke Daniels’ upcoming thriller stars Cory Hardrict as Malik and Jasmine Burke as Imani, a Black couple who move into a soapy American suburb only to be greeted by a Karen named, well, Karen White (Manning).

It draws heavy inspiration from real-life Karens who file exaggerated police reports, deface Pride Month artwork, call Black Lives Matter protesters “gay homosexual pieces of crap” and listen to Kids Bop.

Manning fully embraces Karenhood as she literally threatens to call the manager while spewing racist hate. But Malik and Imani are fully prepared to fight back against her bigotry, Deadline reported.

A trailer shows Manning’s character phone the police on young people of colour for literally just existing, spouting false claims to the operator as the teens film her.

It also shows the authorities looking into White’s own past and oh, the soap dispenser she has that is decorated with the Confederate Flag.


After everyone realised that, yes, this is actually a real trailer for a very real film that we have no choice but to exist with – the internet became awash with reactions that were mixed, to say the least.

Between amusement and disbelief, many expressed their unease at the film, its tone and its apparent sidelining of Black characters to focus on Manning’s Karen.

Since Jordan Peele’s seminal Get Out, there has been an uptick in horror films and TV series with a focus on racism and Black trauma.

However, many have, in the eyes of critics, failed to add anything to the conversation. Where Get Out was lauded as a nuanced commentary on racism in America, other projects, notably including Amazon’s Them, have been criticised as “trauma porn”.

As The Atlantic’s Hannah Giorgis put it: “I knew then that Them would be painful to watch not just because of its excessive violence, but also because it lacks any real subtlety or storytelling finesse.”

Writing for The Guardian, Tayo Bero summed it up with: “The works that Get Out spawned don’t have as much to say about the topic as the source material does, and what results is a constant reopening of the wounds of racial violence, for very little payoff.”

After Jordan Peele’s name began trending on Twitter, director Coke Daniels took to Instagram to say: “Keep comparing Karen to Get Out! We’ll receive that!”

At the time of writing, Karen does not have a release date set.

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