**WARNING POST CONTAINS SPOILER ALERTS**
This past weekend, Codeblack Films, a division of Lionsgate, released Traffik in theaters nationwide. Written and directed by Deon Taylor, Traffik features Paula Patton as journalist Brea and Omar Epps as her auto restorator boyfriend. The two go on a romantic getaway to a remote cabin in the woods, with no cell reception, when a vicious biker gang shows up and ruins the whole weekend by killing everyone. Now side note, I don’t know why, y’all insist on going to these remote cabins in the woods, but it almost never ends in a desirable way. Ok, anyway, back to the film. In actuality, the couple encounters the biker gang at a gas station a couple of miles back. There, Brea has a weird interaction in the bathroom with a girl, who looks visibly shaken. Meanwhile, John has a racist exchange of words and punches with the bikers outside. The girl drops her satellite phone in Brea’s purse which is presumably some cry of help especially since she gives her some crypt message when she leaves. The bikers thus track the phone to the cabin and they show up and kill folks and force Brea into a sex trafficking holding tunnel. That’s right, the bikers are sex traffickers and the phone contained important criminal information. That’s why they shoot everyone to protect their multi-million dollar criminal enterprise.
The films starts by stating it was inspired by true events, which is kind of misleading because the characters and the story are not true but the issue of women/girls being trafficked at a gas station is. Once I found this out, then it all made sense to me because while I was watching the film, I kept saying to myself, this ish can’t be true. There isn’t actually a journalist who experienced the horrors first hand of being kidnapped and drugged and then used her story as a platform to unearth a small town sex trafficking ring. Doesn’t that seem a little ridiculous to you? And for the life of me, I don’t understand why the girl had the phone with the important information on it. That’s what started this whole mess. It’s something about this film that was just off for me. I wasn’t vibing with it all. And admittingly, that could be because I just don’t like Paula Patton as an actress. I think she is horrible. But besides that point, the whole movie seemed like a forced, boring, cliche attempt to shed light on the serious issue of domestic sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking almost always is presented as a foreign issue, but its a huge problem in the U.S. especially for Black and Brown girls. In the story that director, Deon Taylor drew inspiration from, 40 girls were discovered in an underground tunnel in northern California, 40% of those girls were Black. Traffik does get two “Black Power” fist for helping educate audiences on the seriousness of domestic sex trafficking but it’s overshadowed by the absurdness of it all. So, is it worth going to see it in theaters…. I’m leaning toward no, but we are rooting for everyone Black this year, so let’s help Deon Taylor get those box office coins.
If you believe you have some information on a sex trafficking crime, visit the National Trafficking Hotline online or call them at 1-888-373-7888.