Amazon’s Prime Video has dropped the first trailer from the upcoming Regina Hall horror film, Master.

From director and writer Mariama Diallo, the film also stars Zoe Renee and Amber Gray. It first premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and will soon screen at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival.

Here’s the description:

Professor Gail Bishop (Regina Hall) has recently been promoted to “Master” of a residence hall, the first time at storied Ancaster College that a Black woman has held the post. Determined to breathe new life into a centuries-old tradition, Gail soon finds herself wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee), an energetic and optimistic Black freshman. Jasmine’s time at Ancaster hits a snag early on when she’s assigned a dorm room that is rumored to be haunted. Things get worse when Jasmine clashes in the classroom with Liv Beckman (Amber Gray), a professor in the middle of her own racially charged tenure review. As Gail tries to maintain order and fulfill the duties of a Master, the cracks begin to show in Ancaster’s once-immaculate facade. After a career spent fighting to make it into Ancaster’s inner circle, Gail is confronted with the horrifying prospect of what lies beneath, her question ultimately becoming not whether the school is haunted, but by whom.

Master is set to debut March 18 on Prime Video.

“I would say that my experiences and certainly my observations [at a similar institution], wholly inspired and allowed me to create Master,” said Diallo in a chat with Shadow and Act before the trailer’s release. “The film wouldn’t have been possible without the kind of personal process that I went through as an undergraduate and even more so than that, the process of reflection. I think [that] as I was growing through it, there was a lot I had to discard about my reality and surroundings in order to just progress and move forward and survive. When I started thinking about it a little bit more critically after I graduated, years after I graduated, I was like this detective, almost going back  and digging back into my own past and looking harder at some things that were there all along.”

The film centers on the three women played by Hall, Renee and Gray, and there are two in particular that the director says she most identified with.

“I think for me, when I was writing Master, I was no longer coming at it from the perspective of an undergraduate or you know, a teenager like Jasmine is,” she explained. “I think that my perspective was a lot more closely aligned to Gail’s. I felt quite identified with her for a lot of the story process and I felt as if I were kind of similar to how Gail behaves in the film. I felt as if I was confronting my younger self, in this case, as I embodied by Jasmine, and trying to understand some of the internal processes of this younger self in the course of writing and making the film. It feels very important to an end. It felt like a relief to not only consider an institution like Ancaster through the eyes of a young person, but to see how, whether its a freshman or a professor like Live, who’s earlier in her career, or someone like Gail who’s later in her career, they’re all kind of presenting these different waystations in a journey of oppression from this institution so you’re kind of getting a glimpse into all the different ways that can manifest and the way that each character is affected by the microaggressions and the racism of their peers and colleagues. It all takes a slightly different form, which I thought was really important and telling the story of that space and what that can do to people.”

It was also important for Diallo to carve out space for the women who typically are not the leads in genre pics like this

“I mean, my story and the story of some Black women I know–my mother worked in academia for many years–that was the story I wanted to tell and so those characters were almost non-negotiable,” she added. “That’s just it and it wasn’t even anything that I thought about too hard, that’s just who I wanted to talk about. It’s rare, even in the horror space, to follow, characters like the ones in Master, but I feel strongly about that from a sort of political standpoint as well. My need for those characters and their importance and supremacy in the film even precedes that political stance that I have. It’s just this is their story so they’re going to be the ones at the very front.”

Master is set to debut March 18 on Prime Video.


Trey Mangum also contributed to this report.