I must live under a rock since I was not aware of the pre-movie hype for this one. I had heard of Jordan Peele, the writer and director of this film. Yet, all I knew about him was that he was funny. Hardly outstanding credentials for a horror movie director.
In addition I saw this on the night of its release. Thus, guaranteeing the audience would be filled with annoying teenagers willing to talk during the film. I know that makes me seem old and crotchety but hell I am getting old and was crotchety before my time.
My expectations for horror movies are not that high. I am not looking to be educated or to be mentally challenged I simply want to be entertained. This movie surpassed my expectations. I don’t think it will be walking away with an Oscar next year but if there was a category for horror it should at least be nominated.
Although, this film was not preachy it certainly made a statement about racism and cultural norms. I should note that I will do my best to avoid any major spoilers but there will still be a discussion of the movie so if you have not seen it you might wish to stop reading. Rose Armitage a white twenty something woman who is dating Chris Washington a black twenty something man. The couple is going to meet her rich, white, parents for the first time. Her father is a brain surgeon and her mother is a hypnotist. Their occupations are important to the film but I am trying to avoid major spoilers.
It is clear that Chris Washington has some reservations about the trip. He is concerned that her parents will be bothered by the fact he is African American. At the same time she seems to ignore this concern pointing out, “My father would have voted for Obama to have a third term”. Chris Washington has enough insight to understand that people may be more liberal when it comes to politics than when it comes to someone dating their daughter.
One the way to the home the couple are detained by the police when their car strikes a deer. The officer’s focus is on Mr. Washington rather than the white driver. This sets the stage for the issues of race within the movie. The director’s focus on the dying deer and the confrontation with the police makes this scene intentionally uncomfortable.
At the house Rose’s parents seem overly enthusiastic to meet Chris. Her father reminded me of Mr. Keaton in Family Ties. Yet, despite the warm welcome there is something sinister about the household. Most disturbing are the black maid and gardener. They each at times appear to have a flat affect but at others times seem to be holding back their emotions.
It is hard to continue with the specifics without giving too much away. I will say that for a comedian Mr. Peele provided some jump out of your seat scares. Yet, more importantly he was able to produce a spooky vibe and growing sense tension.He also threw in enough comedy to break up the discomfort. Milton “Lil Rel” Howery provided some much needed comic relief and deserves credit for his performance.
In a world full of sequels and unoriginal horror movies this stands out as a winner. It makes a statement about racism and our society. It addresses the idea that racism is not always overt but can be subtle and hide beneath the surface. At the same time the movie does not hit the viewer over the head. I could spend more time giving my interpretation of the underlying meaning of the film but I will leave that to the audience. Even if you take nothing from the film as to its meaning you will certainly enjoy the ride.
This is a must see for horror buffs. It is certainly the best horror movie to come out this year. Also, the idea of a horror movie Oscar seems like a good one. Maybe if we all called the Academy of Motion Pictures they might consider it. Then again if the Oscar people can’t get their envelopes straight perhaps they have enough on their plates.