The Reading (2023) – Review/ Summary

Community Rating: 82% (11 votes)

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Mo’Nique’s first joint venture with Lee Daniels since reconciling has her getting beaten and bruised and then coming off like a crazed psychopath.

Director(s) Courtney Glaudé
Screenplay By Courtney Glaudé
Based On N/A
Date Released (BET Plus) February 2, 2023
Genre(s) Crime, Horror
Duration 1 Hour 38 Minutes
Content Rating Rated TV-MA
Noted Cast
Emma Leeden Mo’Nique
Sky Brown Chasity Sereal

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Film Summary

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A year ago, something terrible happened in Emma Leeden’s home. Her husband was killed, her daughter, and even her 5-year-old son. She survived but lost a finger and, lucky for her, was able to survive thanks to publishing a book about the encounter. But, with sales slowing down, her sister-in-law, who handles her PR, hires Sky and her friends, who usually con people out of money, under the guise that Sky has psychic abilities. In some ways, she does, but usually, the focus is more on getting money out of people than giving them peace.

However, as Sky meets Emma and conjures up old spirits and feelings, she learns that sometimes it is better to let the dead’s cries remain silent.

Things To Note

Why Is “The Reading” Rated TV-MA

  • Dialog: Cursing throughout
  • Violence: Gun violence, blood, depictions of open wounds, and violence against children
  • Sexual Content: None
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking and smoking

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. What kind of demon was in that house?

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.


Mo'Nique as Emma Leeden
“Mo’Nique as Emma Leeden,” The Reading, directed by Courtney Glaudé, 2023, (BET Plus)

At one time, Emma was a wife and mother to two children, living in a nice home, and had a comfortable life. However, after the tragic events of a year ago, she is a widow, a mother without living children, and has damage to her body which has altered her speech, her dexterity, and her ability to walk.

  • You May Also Know The Actor From Being: An unknown role in Lee Daniels’ upcoming “The Deliverance,” Ma Rainey in “Bessie,” Claire Rousseau in “Blackbird,” and Mary in “Precious.”


Chasity Sereal as Sky Brown
“Chasity Sereal as Sky Brown,” The Reading, directed by Courtney Glaudé, 2023, (BET Plus)

In college but barely able to manage it financially, Sky has taken to using her psychic gifts to exploit people. But, with being uncomfortable with using this gift, she eventually finds herself continuing only at the behest of her boyfriend and friends.


Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)


You Get Invested In Sky’s Survival

With introducing Sky’s mother, noting how they are on the verge of being kicked out, alongside it being made clear her mom is intelligent but struggling? You get invested in Sky. Yes, there will be times Sky will get on your last nerve, especially as her friends are dying and she is of little to no help. But there is something sweet about her, paired with a background that makes you feel for her, and it’s good enough to make you want her to be a survivor.

When Emma Reveals Her True Self, She Can Be Fearsome And Comical

Does Mo’Nique remind you why she won an Oscar? No. However, she does remind you why she was one of the most prominent comedians. Now, is this to say she is going to make you roar with laughter? No. However, as Emma slowly but surely switches in a Dr. Jerkyll and Mr. Hyde way, the things that come out of Emma’s mouth can be comical. If Emma was made to have more depth, some of it could have potentially been interesting social commentary.

But, alas, Emma is just someone who knew what it means to be poor, almost lost it out, and snapped because of it. Leading to her becoming the woman who stands between Sky and her friends, continuing their lives or meeting death.

On The Fence

It’s B-Movie Horror

“The Reading” isn’t something to be slotted with the likes of “Smile,” “Barbarian,” or the potential classics we got in 2022 theatrically. I wouldn’t even say it is on the level of “Ma,” Octavia Spencer’s movie from 2019. It’s just a movie with a simple setup, characters who are given a quick sob story, and then the twist hits, and you’re watching a bunch of teens you barely know anything about run from someone with a gun, or a knife, with them having no means to escape.

Which is fine, especially if you enjoy horror that is mainly focused on kills. But if you need more than that? If you want a compelling story or characters? “The Reading” isn’t for you. It’s more of a quantity for BET Plus film than quality, as we’ve seen with many of their holiday programs, or in the case of “Angel.”

Title Card for The Reading
The Reading (2023) – Review/ Summary
“The Reading” may not be a grand follow-up to Lee Daniels and Mo’Nique’s last collaboration, but this is with him producing, not writing and directing. So consider this perhaps a warm-up for better things since this movie, while entertaining, is ultimately forgettable.
You Get Invested In Sky’s Survival
When Emma Reveals Her True Self, She Can Be Fearsome And Comical
It’s B-Movie Horror

What Would Your Rating Be?


  1. OMG this movie was amazing. Monique definitely delivered!! Did you see that stare?? She had me scared!! I have been reading the reviews about everyone’s opinions about the ending. You all got me thinking now. Did Sky really kill everyone and like Emma, go on the talk show and tell the story according to her. Makes you wonder. Does anyone know if a part 2 is in the making?

  2. I think once sky connects with emms dead family she is possessed and she kills Emma her friends and the lady. Sky said once touched by the other side you can become possessed they ask her how did you get out to say her story was a lie. Now tell us what really happened in the house. Part 2:-)

    1. That’s what I’m thinking. Same as Emma. What we see is the story they are telling on the talk show. She’s probably the teen daughter. I think what she was feeling was the vengeful spirit of the daughter. She mentioned being smothered in the next room. Or maybe possessed Emma…but something is off with the ending.

  3. I wonder if an evil spirit was present during the time of the assault on her family– considering evil spirits sometimes attaches to those that are less vulnerable or consumed with evil motives. Sky recognized this presence during her initial encounter with Emma. “Something doesn’t feel right”. Also, when she was released from her trance, she looked at the wall and recognized what seemed to be a demonic force. I believe Emma was possessed with this force which explains her voice change and her swift movements around the house. I do believe that evil spirit was transferred to Sky as others as mentioned by touch after Emma’s death. Just my thoughts!!

  4. Monique done an amazing job. Just shows that everything is not a comedy. Even though there were some comedic moments in the film. Loved it Monique❤️❤️❤️❤️

  5. Her soul did indeed go into Skye’s, in the beginning she said there is no escape, meaning she knew there was no possible way to get out unless you knew the code to unlock all doors, in the interview she said she guessed the code which is indication #1, 2 as soon as she died there was a breif 3 secs where she was slumped and as soon as she died she went into Skye hints the vein in her head, 3 when she said “something like that”

  6. I definitely think Emma possessed Sky at the end due to the interview scene and what the Interviewee said to prior to that crazy glare at the end.
    Since Sky said possession can happen if touched in the beginning, I’m sure Emma’s spirit touched Sky eventually, while probably trying to find a way out the house.

  7. I’m sorry, but if you think Barbarian or Smile will be classics I can’t even take this review seriously. I’ve been a fan of horror movies since a little girl, grew up when most of the actual horror classics were first released. Monique did a great job in my opinion. I don’t know too many horror movies where people care about the characters depth and social commentary. Sometimes people just want to be scared without knowing the life history of a person or to be taught a social lesson. There are legit nutty people out in here in real life who commit crimes like this for something as simple as money. Also being a fan of true crime, thats horror in itself. There was no “demon”. Emma was the demon in human form, just evil. She says something along the lines of “Im not crazy, I’m calculating. “ Barbarian had the potential to be good all the way up to when the monster is revealed then it became a foolish comedy. Emma may have comedic lines but in the context we are viewing, were also creepy and twisted. I think “The reading “ was solid and stood on its on own. In comparison to most horror or thriller movies in current times I didn’t feel disappointed or let down by the middle of the movie. Monique committed to her role and was creepy, sick and demented all the way to the end.

    1. I think “Smile” and “Barbarian,” considering how horror has become such a flash-in-the-pan genre, where it’s basically found footage, more focused on gore, or exorcisms, those two stand out in ways that, even if they aren’t classics like “Friday The 13th” or “Nightmare on Elm Street,” they do stand out. So maybe “classic” could be taking things a bit far, but I do believe those two, alongside “The Black Phone,” and others not coming to mind, pushed the idea the genre isn’t simply about the same franchises revived to see if they are still exploitable.

      And I would agree, Mo’nique did a wonderful job of playing unhinged. But, I wouldn’t say horror can’t have depth to it or people don’t want that. Jordan Peele’s brand of horror has been a hit and has definitely been more than about getting to vicariously be scared in a safe environment. So it’s not wrong to want more, considering growing up poor was the source of her being as crazy as she was, and her husband on the verge of losing it all potentially breaking her.

      As for the demon comment, I took that, based on Sky’s comments about being touched by a spirit once, and how that traumatized her, maybe after she defeated Emma, whatever it is that took hold of Emma and pushed her over, possessed her – at least based on that look she gave when she was being interviewed at the end of the movie. While Sky was part of a con with her boyfriend and friends, it did appear she did have some kind of psychic medium powers and, with playing with things far beyond her control, she was taken.

      1. Amari, thanks for the explanation. I was so confused with the ending, i actually thought Emma’s daughter had survived and taken over Sky. Your explanation was better the spirit that possessed Emma now possesses Sky.

    2. I agree. What did you get out of the last scene, when she said but how did you get out. Do you think Emma’s soul possessed Sky?

    3. Thank you. I didn’t agree with this review either. This was a great performance by Monique and if I didn’t know she was a comedian I wouldn’t guess it from this movie.

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