Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Selah and the Spades is a boarding-school drama devoid of sympathetic characters or a compelling plot.
Written and directed by Tayarisha Poe, the story focuses on a fancy northeastern boarding school controlled by five factions who run various illicit activities in the school. Selah (Lovie Simone) is a drug dealer who leads the Spades. Now that she's a senior, she is looking for someone to take over her operation after she graduates. She settles on aspiring photographer Paloma (Celeste O'Connor).
There isn't really much of a plot here. Selah administers beatings and deals drugs, but we rarely see much of that on-screen. Her biggest concern other than finding someone to take over her clique is the identity of a "rat," who is telling the administration about the illegal activities Selah and the other factions engage in.
Without a compelling story to keep viewers interested, all that's left is a film full of loathsome characters. Yes, there have been good movies in the past with unlikable characters. But they generally have strong plots and stories attached to them. Selah and the Spades just asks viewers to spend 97 aimless minutes with a bully and a drug dealer.
The one saving grace of Selah and the Spades is that Roe has a good visual eye as a director. If only she could have put those visuals to a better script.