Director Nate Parker’s biographical film about Nat Turner plays out like the scariest of horror shows—as it very well should.
The Birth of a Nation scarily portrays Turner’s slave rebellion in the South, one that resulted in many African Americans being slaughtered in retaliation. It’s bloody; it’s heartbreaking; and it’s the two-by-four to the face the subject warrants.
Parker plays Turner, a slave raised as a preacher and exploited for money by his plantation owner (Armie Hammer, in a most scary performance); Parker’s performance is a powerful one. As for his directing, he portrays white plantation and slave owners and preachers as hissing, hateful, almost-cartoonish demons … and I say amen to that.
Some of the history might not be 100 percent accurate, but the portrayal of the hatred and the disgusting state of affairs that led to Turner’s uprising is vivid and on target. Jackie Earle Haley, aka Kelly Leak of The Bad News Bears, successfully portrays one of the most repugnant, irredeemable characters ever put to screen.
Stylistically, the film gets a little strange in a few moments, but the end results and impressions are long lasting and very meaningful.
The Birth of a Nation is playing at theaters across the valley.