A comedian made a better scary film than horror film directors. It is also “woke” as hell.
Directed and Written by Jordan Peele
Music by Michael Abels
Cinematography by Toby Olliver
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, LaKeith Stanfield, Catherine Keener.
Chris is a photographer that is going to visit his girlfriend’ parents. But soon we learn she has not told them Chris is black. For many, that would be the first sign to not go on this trip at all, which is followed by quite a couple of other veiled reasons, however, he goes, and is greeted by her accepting although quite awkward mother and father, and their servants. Soon after, weird things start happening, and Chris begins to wonder if they have gotten into his mind. Poor Chris is then left to try to survive in a bid for his actual soul and body.
Let us get the big giant out of the post before people start accusing, THIS MOVIE IS NOT RACIST. In fact, if we can get one thing out of this, is the very simple fact that we are all Chris. Jordan Peele wrote and directed a movie in which black people could see themselves represented besides the stereotypical portrayals in other media, a film where the racists are not the usual alt-right, or the rednecks but the “liberals” who “don’t see race”, as well, as a movie in which, if all that fails to interest you, one can see themselves in the role of Chris, a person who is that individual at Thanksgiving or Christmas who feels uncomfortable and is surrounded by people of very differing views to their own, and must pretend until the holidays are over. I prefer to look at it as a satire and commentary on white America and covert racism.
“With a horror movie, you’re making a metaphor. You’re making a personalized nightmare for the protagonist. That’s what this is. It’s meant to get crazy to relay what the inner state and inner fears are representing.” -Jordan Peele in interview with Mother Jones.
What Peele is presenting us with here is that very real fear minorities feel in their daily lives, but shown in a way that even those who do not experience it can understand it. One does not have to be blind to see the harassment, systematic racism, and oppression certain people have to endure in a world where white hegemony is prevalent. This film gives us this experience in a smaller scale. We feel the uneasiness Chris feels when surrounded by white people, when asked masked racist questions, we see how police see him even as he has committed no crime. It is truly an effective way to target the issues.
If all of that masterful satire is not enough to keep you interested and has you coming back to the movie to peel away the layers, then the comedy will keep you feted for sure. Amidst a constant state of fear, we are given glimpses of hilarity, usually to break the intense tension, usually by the cousin character, whose theories as to why things are happening are as comically insane as any of us would come up with ourselves.
This is a film I will watch many times over, not only for the entertainment value, but to see and understand all of the underlying themes and easter eggs that Peele managed to fit in, from his already known “Night of the Living Dead” to whatever he plans to put in his consecutive films, as he said he wishes to expand on the world created here.