Release Date: February 24, 2017
Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Cast: Allison Williams, Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Erika Alexander, Betty Gabriel, Lyle Brocato, Marcus Henderson, Brad Spiers, Ashley LeConte Campbell, Jana Allen, LilRel Howery, Jeronimo Spinx, Caiden Vaughn, Lory Tom Thompson Sr., Avery Frawley, Julie Ann Doan, Gary Wayne Loper, Trey Burvant, Jack Teague
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes
Production Company: Blumhouse Productions, OC Entertainment, Universal Pictures
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Mystery
My goodness! This is like a Black man’s worst nightmare, to be abducted by white people only to be forced into slavery. Jordan Peele (Key & Peele, Keanu) made a bold move when he decided to write and direct this horror laced mysterious thriller. Not only does it fit that mold, but the inclusion of comedy was a hard task that he pulled off. Initially shocked that he would take on such material given his background delving in comedy, Peele delivered a thought provoking film that not only exceeds your expectations, but influences how you think about issues that’s been lurking around for years. There’s a large amount of racial issues that this film addresses, and it’s done so in a way that will be a wakeup call to some, as well as a soft comedy that will be discussed by many, all in the name of fun.
What should be noted early on, is that this film deals with race. So if that bothers you (it shouldn’t), this may not be for you. When the trailers first dropped, it’s safe to say that most of Black America thought to themselves, “Oh snap, a horror movie with a Black Man in the lead, and it looks like he’s going to actually demonstrate how we would behave in a horror movie.” This humor has been around the African-American community since before I could remember. Black people are always joking around about how we’re misrepresented in horror flicks, or if we were in great peril running for our lives, how we would act or survive. That’s the strongest element of this film by far, and is the sole reason certain groups of people will turn out. It pays off, as the script was tighter than an extra small latex glove, speaking volumes for every Black person I know.
What’s also appreciated is the slow burn the film has while still teasing you with tidbits for what’s to come. Chris Washington (Daniel Kuulya) is just trying to live a normal life, and is in strong like with his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). Everything seems as normal as it should, and when it’s time to go meet the parents, he knows just because of the color of his skin there may be an issue. You see, Daniel Kaluuya (Kick Ass 2, Sicario) is a dark-skinned brother and his girlfriend is pale white. The visual representation displaying the distance there can be, and lack of understanding between two different cultures, was wonderful. Yet the beauty behind two opposing races coming together in the name of love has its own spectacle to marvel at as well. Regardless of who you are, you can look at these two as a blessing or a curse, and knocking these two birds out with one stone created great appeal while watching. Though not everyone thinks the same. There’s multiple types of racism, and this film takes on a few that’s apparent in the world today; some being conscious of their views, while others are still unconscious of their views (or so they say). There are those with ridiculous, hateful malicious intent, still thinking that Black people are beings to be controlled, and will stop at no end to achieve that reality. Many of these elements are in one scene, back to back to back like a three piece combo from the world’s strongest. And as all this is going on, its slowly preparing you for the inevitable end when the crap is closing in on the fan.
It’s great to get to know Chris too while all the darkness is brewing in the background. He’s a respectable young man, and has a clever sense of humor just like any other male in his demographic. He reacted as any person would given the situation, and is a person that doesn’t like to waste time. The back and forth with his best friend Rod (LilRel Howery) made you laugh out loud as a bonus, even when it wasn’t necessary. It got a little silly a time or two, but didn’t ruin the tone. You’re already at the edge of your seat, and every once in a while, a joke comes at the right time to lighten the mood in the air. It doesn’t seem like an easy task to juggle comedy, mystery, and thrills together, but Peele was able to do so seamlessly.
What makes any form of entertainment worth your while, is when all parties involved (even with opposing sides) are giving it their all to succeed in their mission. The evil slave masters had their thought-out plan, while Chris had to think on his feet, using every thread and needle to his advantage. The theater was screaming at the movie screen in joy as Chris did what he had to do to survive. With it being likely that he would succeed, you still had no idea what the outcome would be even with the answer possibly being around the corner. It was a breath of fresh air to have a lead character that uses his brain in a horror film, when for years it felt like the victims would run towards their attacker. Oh, but not Chris though.
I felt such a connection to his character. It was easy to relate to his state of being as he tried to bond with others that looked like him, but knew there was something wrong. The entire cast did a phenomenal job, even with some of their roles not feeling important until the very end. Most people like surprises, and when you think they’re all used up, another one jumps out from behind the bush. The creepiest part of the film dealt with the hypnosis. Not knowing how in depth this philosophy goes, I’m intrigued to learn more about the subject matter. With a soundtrack titled ‘Redbone’ produced by Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) that tied in with the hypnotic melodies of mind control, it is sure to make your skin crawl. As you are watching, you feel as if you may be going into a deep sleep that you won’t wake up from.
It’s not too often a film can live up to its promise, yet here’s another that accomplished that. Having control over the writing and directing paid off, as Peele will open more doors for himself and others to provide original pieces of art. Being not too expensive with the production budget, Blumhouse Pictures (Split, The Belko Experiment) may have finally found their niche. Producing low budget films for a profit could be lucrative, but the sacrifice of quality was always apparent. Looking at a few of their past films, and what’s soon to come, this may not be an issue much longer; as I look forward to everything they will bank roll. Unless you have an army of friends waiting by the phone, I don’t ever recommend going to the Armitage’s house. Though if you do, and it seems a little weird, please, I beg of you, GET OUT!