Charles Burnett’s stunning, poetic masterpiece is novelistic in its narrative density and richness of characterization. Harry Mention, an enigmatic drifter from the South, comes to go to an previous acquaintance named Gideon, who now lives in South-Central Los Angeles. Harry’s charming, down-home method hides a malicious penchant for stirring up hassle, and he exerts an odd and highly effective impact on Gideon and his totally assimilated black, middle-class household. The family was already rife with battle when the devilish visitor arrived, and Harry’s grab-bag of folktales, fortunate charms and foul magic solely deepens the household rift. Sickness and madness steadily descend upon Gideon’s dwelling, and it quickly turns into evident that one thing should give.

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