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Far, far away, in a land that shares many similarities with the United States, there exists a small but growing group of people who live under a system of rule by fear. The people of Karen have no idea that their government is fueled by violence and brutal oppression, but they can see the signs as computer readouts of their every move. In the face of this Orwellian surveillance, many citizens are hiding in the shadows, fearing for their lives.
“Karen” unwittingly reveals the emptiness in basing a script on ridiculing its central monster, as sweet as her tears may be. His emotional saga for Imani and Malik, which climaxes with a monologue about why "All Lives Matter" is nonsense, is even more revealing of how deficient this project is. It's all about innocuous button-pushing, while Imani and Malik become side characters whose tableau of trauma is presented as wholesale plot points. What their experience represents isn't part of some in-your-face, self-aware statement that comes from an exploitation film, it's just straight-up exploited.
From the opening scene where we see Taryn Manning’s Karen Drexler furiously scrubbing a chalk “BLACK LIVES MATTER” logo from a street, through the first strains of an ominous score straight out of a horror movie, it’s clear there will be little room for subtlety here. “Karen” is set primarily in an upper middle class Atlanta suburban community, where Imani (Jasmine Burke) and her husband Malik (Cory Hardrict) have just moved in and apparently are the first Black family in the entire neighborhood. From the moment Imani and Malik meet their next-door neighbor, a widowed mother of two named Karen, it’s pretty obvious she’s trouble in a bad wig. Karen scolds them about leaving their garbage bin on the curb, says to Imani, “Of all the houses that you could buy, why here?” and installs an elaborate security system around her house, with one camera pointing directly at the new neighbors. (Source: chicago.suntimes.com)