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Cracka short film review

Directed by: #DaleResteghini


 

Harriet Tubman once said “I think slavery is the next thing to hell”. Next door to that then is watching Cracka on repeat for eternity – an alternate-history short that manages to be as dreadful as it is divisive.


Neo-Nazi Michael Stone (Lorenzo Antonucci) is sent back in time to an alternate America where white people are enslaved by black masters. Captured, sold at auction and given another name, he is forced to work at the hand of cruel slaveowner Dex Jackson (Hakeem Kae-Kazim). But sensing an urge to fight their oppression, he rallies his fellow slaves together to fight back.


Seemingly designed to incite controversy, Cracka is a lazy production which revels in torture porn and totally mishandles a sensitive topic. Its role-reversal concept seems tailor-made for a redemptive story – in which the white, racist protagonist understands the horrors of slavery and sees the error of his ways. And yet the film never takes time to establish this theme or follow this obvious plotline. Stone is a reprehensible, vile character at the film’s beginning, and there is no indication his views have changed by the film’s end. If anything, his experience appears to have emboldened him – given that he never stops to contemplate whether he is guilty of the same acts of brutality he receives – and his hatred ends up coming across as justified.


Director Dale Resteghini, who is white, claims to have made the film to help white people in America see racism from a new perspective. However, the lack of any clear character arc or moral journey for its protagonist leaves the film’s message in limbo. One could just as easily conclude that races ought to be kept separate as each are as bad as each other, as they could conclude that slavery is an outright evil. And for a supposed anti-racism film, sympathising a NEO-NAZI is an unbelievably bad move which predictably falls flat on its face. The regressive and derivative tendencies, such as the constant use of the slur ‘cracker’ and an uncomfortably crass rape scene, suggest a kind of sick revenge fantasy element to the piece – and are further evidence the whole thing is a tiresome, controversy-stoking exercise in shock-cinema that has no real ideas to stand behind.


Furthermore, despite supposedly aiming to help white people understand racism, the film happily makes use of some of the most offensive and tiresome cliches in cinema – such as black men being naturally angry or sexually violent, or presenting a notion that black rights activists secretly wish to impose upon white people the same evils. This is doubly offensive as it is a message co-opted by a white director – who for someone who wants people to take a new look at racism, probably shouldn’t rely on racist tropes seen in Birth of a Nation 100 years ago.


Production is tacky with passable acting and set design let down by shoddy camera work and confusing editing which makes key scenes difficult to follow. The decision to include a pop-ballad midway through a film about the horrors of slavery and racism is a baffling one – and seems to originate from the director’s background in music video direction. The inability to omit this pointless and laughable inclusion is just another example of how the subject matter is not taken seriously.


An all-around awful film that uses race-baiting to try and claw some kind of interest that its quality certainly does not deserve, Cracka deserves no more words written on it, and even fewer eyeballs directed to it. A half-embarrassing, half-enraging disgrace.


 

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