Title Card - Stay Out
"Title Card," Stay Out, directed by Jared Safier, 2023, (BET+)

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General Information

Director(s) Jared Safier
Screenplay By Anthony D. Bell, Quinn Early
Based On N/A
Date Released (BET Plus) October 26, 2023
Genre(s) Crime, Drama, Fantasy
Film Length 1 Hour 36 Minutes
Content Rating Rated TV-MA
Noted Characters and Cast
William Phrederic Semaj
Jamie Paris Bravo
Raveen Desiree Mitchell
Velma Janessa Morgan
Rufus Christopher Sky
Donovan Kareem J. Grimes

Content Rating Explanation

“Stay Out” contains:

  • Dialog: Cursing throughout
  • Violence: Depiction of lynching and murder with knives and guns
  • Sexual Content: None
  • Miscellaneous: Nothing notable

Film Summary

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Donovan was a happily married man with a successful business and a wife who was successful in her own right. But, one day, he receives a call, learning that he has inherited from his aunt and uncle their house. Now, with being estranged from his Uncle Rufus and Aunt Velma, Donovan is quite surprised, and with learning they lived out in Blue Ridge, Georgia, he is warned about being out there since it isn’t safe for Black folks.

Undeterred, he heads to the family home and intends to sell it. However, he finds himself possessed by his voodoo-practicing uncle who, using his nephew, seeks revenge on the people who murdered him decades ago.

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Donovan

Donovan (Kareem J. Grimes)
“Donovan (Kareem J. Grimes),” Stay Out, directed by Jared Safier, 2023, (BET+)

Successful, as is custom for movies like this, Donovan only appears to have his wife and co-workers as part of his life, which makes the inheritance of his uncle’s home and land a surprise to him.

Rufus

Rufus (Christopher Sky)
“Rufus (Christopher Sky),” Stay Out, directed by Jared Safier, 2023, (BET+)

A hard-working man killed in the 1960s who, via voodoo magic, finds a way to come back and get his revenge.

Velma

Velma (Janessa Morgan)
“Velma (Janessa Morgan) ,” Stay Out, directed by Jared Safier, 2023, (BET+)

Velma is Rufus’ wife.

Raveen

Raveen (Desiree Mitchell)
“Raveen (Desiree Mitchell),” Stay Out, directed by Jared Safier, 2023, (BET+)

Raveen is a young lady growing up in Blue Ridge, Georgia, who may have an interest in acting based on what her mom says.

Jamie

Jamie (Paris Bravo)
“Jamie (Paris Bravo),” Stay Out, directed by Jared Safier, 2023, (BET+)

Jamie, like Raveen is a Blue Ridge native, but, unlike Raveen, she didn’t grow up with both of her parents – just her alcoholic mother.

William

William (Phrederic Semaj)
“William (Phrederic Semaj),” Stay Out, directed by Jared Safier, 2023, (BET+)

William is a local mechanic and Raveen’s father who, like his daughter and wife, isn’t fond of Blue Ridge but is hesitant to make a move.

Review

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

On The Fence

There Are A Lot Of Good, Individual Storylines Unfortunately Mashed Together

You’d think “Stay Out” would just be about Donovan getting revenge for his family, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. It is also about a girl named Raveen, whose family is the new sole Black family in Blue Ridge. Also, there is her best friend Jamie, whose mother is an alcoholic, and her father is long gone. Then, on top of that, there are extensive flashbacks of Rufus’ life when he was alive, which ties in with Donovan’s story, but also is strong enough that you can imagine not needing Donovan.

The combination makes it so all storylines feel underwhelming, though you can see each, on their own, could be more than enough. Rufus and Velma’s relationship, combined with Rufus coming from a line of voodoo practitioners, could have been a movie in itself. Be it the move to Blue Ridge, his early works into voodoo, meeting Velma, or dealing with the racists who think his home and land rightfully belong to them? All of that could have been its own movie with Donovan’s story, a sequel about revenge.

Then, with Raveen, considering she is a Black girl in an area that clearly isn’t friendly to Black folk, they could have touched upon what it means to be a young Black girl in such an area, dealing with microaggressions, a father like William who has to be called “Boy” by folks young enough to be his child, and him having to pick and choose his battles. Which, more often than not, are battles with his wife and not the only people who can be clients for William.

As for Jamie? While her story wouldn’t fit on BET+, you can imagine the story of a restless girl with an alcoholic mom who causes escalating trouble to keep herself from being bored, and she could stable into the racist history of her town and become haunted by Rufus’ ghost wanting revenge and maybe possessing her, thinking he could get away with his revenge since she is a White girl, or something else.

All of this is to say, these stories deserved better, and mashing these loosely connected stories together is a disservice to them all.

Who Is This For?

Those who love gory revenge tales in which the person getting revenge isn’t pristine and innocent.

Recommendations

If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. The Reading: Also deals with spiritual possession and a revenge plot (though not with you being pushed to be on the lead’s side)
  2. Message From The King: A revenge tale featuring the late Chadwick Boseman
  3. Bundles: A more comical revenge tale with an air of seriousness

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

How Did “Stay Out” End?

Donovan, after killing his uncle’s murders and their heir, finds himself sacrificed, and Rufus, alongside Velma, possessing Raveen’s parents after she, Jamie, and their friend go to Rufus’ house while skipping school. There, Jamie and the boy are killed, and with Raveen’s parents learning she skipped school, they track her down and upon entering the room where Donovan was killing the kids, we don’t see how he dies, but when Raveen’s parents leave the room, they are acting strange.

Which leads to an awkward moment at Donovan’s funeral when they (Rufus and Velma) show up as Raveen’s parents, give their condolences to Donovan’s wife, and we’re left to question if Donovan’s soul moved into Raveen’s body or if he is unequivocally dead.

Questions Left Unanswered

  1. Where were Donovan’s parents, and why was he so estranged from his aunt Velma?
  2. So, what happened to the family house and land after Rufus and Velma moved to California? Did Donovan’s wife inherit and sell it, or does it sit empty?
  3. Did Donovan ever take the rap for the murders, or do they remain unsolved?

Is There Sequel/ Prequel Potential?

“Stay Out” doesn’t set up a prequel, as a good part of it explores the past, but it could have a sequel featuring what Rufus and Velma do in present day, especially with having a child.


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Stay Out – Overview

Summary

When it comes to “Stay Out,” I’d submit there were multiple good stories that, due to being mashed together, led all of them to become too watered down to be great.

Overall
77%
77%
  • There Are A Lot Of Good, Individual Storylines Unfortunately Mashed Together - 77%
    77%
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Highlight(s)

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Disputable

  • There Are A Lot Of Good, Individual Storylines Unfortunately Mashed Together

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