“Trinket Box” is a Tubi original exploring racism and generational trauma through the lens of haunted objects and demonic possession.
Written and directed by Patrycja Kepa and Acorye White, Trinket Box begins with two prologues.
The first shows someone cleaning up inside of a house and dragging what looks like a dead body out. Then, we travel back in time to 1936, Alabama, where we see Judith Davis (Gracie Davis) in bed with Abe (Joe Anthony Gordon), a young black man. Her younger sister, Mary Ann (Zia Carlock), is spying on them. Their father (Barry Ratcliffe) comes in and catches the young lovers, sending his sons after Abe.
Judith’s brothers beat Abe up. However, before their father can join in, he dies mysteriously.
Then, we fast forward to the current day. Mike (White) and Ava Wilson (Augie Duke), an interracial couple, are moving into a new house in Alabama. Their elderly neighbor, Mrs. Davis (Sandra Ellis Lafferty), comes by. Mrs. Davis asks Ava who Mike is, referring to him as “the dark one.” She asks if he’s causing her trouble. Ava explains that Mike is her husband.
Mrs. Davis gives Ava a necklace with an antique opal pendant in an old wooden box. When Ava tells Mike about this, he’s suspicious and thinks Mrs. Davis is a bit strange. However, Ava thinks she’s a lonely old woman looking for company. We later see Mrs. Davis in their house looking in on Ava and Mike as they sleep.
Once Ava puts on the pendant, everything between Ava and Mike changes.
The film tries to balance horror and drama but fails to maintain a consistent tone throughout.
Some creepy scenes create tension and suspense, such as when Mrs. Davis sneaks into their house at night. However, these scenes are few and far between, and the film mostly focuses on Mike and Ava’s relationship.
The film could have benefited from more scares and less melodrama.
The cast is the strongest aspect of the film. Duke and White deliver convincing performances as a couple whose love is tested by supernatural forces. They have great chemistry and portray the emotional turmoil of their characters well. Lafferty is also effective as the creepy and racist Mrs. Davis.
Unfortunately, Trinket Box has some plot holes and implausible moments that weaken its credibility.
For example, it is unclear why Judith would risk having sex with Abe in broad daylight in her own house, knowing that her family would kill him if they found out. It is also unclear why Ava would not be offended or suspicious of Mrs. Davis after she insults her husband and gives her an old box with strange carvings on it.
Moreover, what the pendant does is never explained exactly, nor do we find out how it is affecting Ava or what Mrs. Davis wants from the couple.
The film has an original premise and a timely message about racism and how it can be passed down from generation to generation.
I do wish the execution was stronger, however.
The film’s two prologues watered down the suspense, and The Trinket Box lacked both serious scares and story logic.
Mrs. Davis would’ve been more interesting if she were less obvious with her overt hostility towards Mike. Antagonists who keep their dark side hidden create more suspense.
It’s flawed but not a complete flop.
Trinket Box gets points for a unique premise and sincere desire to tell an important story, with a focus on representation and relevant social issues.