Ryan Pfluger—The New York Times/Redux

LaKeith Stanfield is a ghost. Watch him haunt Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You orJudas and the Black Messiah—you’ll see. His eyes search and stab you. You are overcome by familiarity, recognition. You’ve hurt like that. Been scared like that. Lied like that.

Simply quoting the acceptable words and slogans is often sold as courageous, but this filmic apparition bucks that, never taking the easy route of contorting his face in the conventional ways that we’ve been taught to accept in film. No. He goes through it. He goes through it to drag us with him. LaKeith’s eyes shine out in the dark, like a ghost in some old cartoon waiting to pounce—or do something we already regret. A ghost of you. Of all of us. Boo.

Riley is a filmmaker who wrote and directed the 2018 film Sorry to Bother You

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