Black Box is a 2020 American horror film directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. and written by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. and Stephen Herman. The film stars Mamoudou Athie, Phylicia Rashad, Amanda Christine, Tosin Morohunfola and Troy James. Jason Blum serves as an executive producer under his Blumhouse Television banner.
Nolan Wright survives a car crash, physically intact but suffering from amnesia. Having lost his wife in the same accident, he is now a single father to his 10-year-old daughter, Ava. Due to his amnesia, Nolan has a hard time remembering his past and doing basic tasks, including cooking and picking up his daughter from school. Ava, who is very mature and highly precocious, aids him in many of these tasks, and makes excuses for him when he falls short in social settings.
After receiving numerous warnings from a teacher at Ava’s school regarding his forgetful behavior (which comes as neglect to those who do not know Nolan’s condition), and failing to get a photography contract at work, Nolan decides to opt for an experimental procedure that might help him get his memory back.
After talking with his friend, Dr. Gary Yeboah, Nolan decides to enlist the help of Dr. Brooks, a neurologist at the hospital he was first brought to after the accident. After using hypnosis, Dr. Brooks explores Nolan’s mind, and deems him a suitable subject for the experimental procedure. With the help of Dr. Brooks, and her “black box,” Nolan explores the recesses of his mind, and tries to regain his memory.
Unfortunately, this is not an easy process. Nolan sees figures, but not faces, and is frequently confronted by some sort of monster that causes him to panic and leave the memories. The good side is, however, that outside Dr. Brooks’ office, he begins to catch glimpses of other memories, which help him work towards a more normal and healthy relationship with Ava.
None of this lasts long, though. As Dr. Brooks pushes Nolan further and further, he begins to suspect that there is a dark truth in his past, and although Dr. Yeboah assures him this is not the case, Nolan is frantic with worry. Eventually, in a session with Dr. Brooks, Nolan defeats the monster in his memories and looks into a mirror, only to realize he is not Nolan at all. When he comes to, he is aware of his true identity: Thomas Brooks, Dr. Brooks’ own son.
Dr. Brooks reveals that Thomas died some time previously, but before he died she had mapped out his consciousness and uploaded it to the black box, so she could download his consciousness into the suitable host when one arrived. Thomas leaves, pretending to still be a Nolan, but is struggling with this new knowledge. Eventually, he leaves Ava with Dr. Yeboah, as he says he no longer trusts himself. Thomas seeks out his wife, and tries to explain to her that he is back, but finds that she has erased all traces of him, and does not want him in her life.
At the same time, Dr. Yeboah is looking into Nolan’s file and realizes there are some irregularities. He grows suspicious of Dr. Brooks. Ultimately, he and Ava break into Dr. Brooks’ office, where they find her trying to replace what is left of Nolan’s consciousness with Thomas’s. They manage to interrupt her in time; Thomas and Nolan are physically acting out the fight for Nolan’s mind in his consciousness, but Ava’s screams remind Thomas of his own daughter’s screams, and he gives up, realizing that he was killed by his wife, who threw him down the stairs after years of abuse.
It appears that Thomas has let go of his hold on Nolan, as we see Nolan, Ava, and Dr. Yeboah leave, but Thomas’s exact fate is left unknown. Dr. Brooks is then shown repairing the black box and trying to run Thomas’s mapped consciousness, which seems to work, as she looks into the black box, says his name, and smiles.
Mamoudou Athie as Nolan Wright
Phylicia Rashad as Dr. Lilian Brooks
Amanda Christine as Ava Wright
Tosin Morohunfola as Dr. Gary Yeboah
Troy James as Backwards Man
Charmaine Bingwa as Miranda Brooks
Donald Watkins as Thomas Brooks