BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS (2017)

 

Director: Jordan Peele

 

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Lil Rey Howery, LaKeith Stanfield, Catherine Keener

Chris Washington (Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Williams) are happily in love and the world seems fresh and fun. They’ve reached the meet-the-parents milestone and the day has come to do the deed. Except Chris has reservation, he’s black and has concerns as to how the relationship with be deemed by Rose’s parents. Only one way to find out, a trip to their lavish mansion and a gathering of their middle-class white liberal friends, with the black servants on the fringes.

 

There’s nothing preachy or fake here, first time director Jordan Peele delivers us a shattering commentary of modern racism wrapped within a tight horror thriller delivering a great movie from it.

From the moment Chris arrives at the mansion, Rose’s parents are exceedingly keen on showing how accepting they can be, and the later guests at the party all take a keen interest in Chris, desperately attempting to assimilate with the young black man. At night, the servants quietly move about the house and garden as Rose’s mother, Missy (Keener), practises her profession – she’s a hypnotist. Something weird is happening, but nothing is being given away.

 

The story unfolds slowly, with every piece of the puzzle being carefully laid out so even the most bizarre directions are accounted for. An air of tension hangs above the movie as we begin to spiral into the madness along with Chris and Peele does a fine job of combining a great script, jump scares and a layer of mystery to the movie.

 

Kaluuya is great as Chris, paranoid at every turn whilst trying to cling to reality, his assured performance thunders the movie along and he sells the uneasy feeling his role required. Williams is equally good as Rose, seemingly caring and considerate, she is a good foil for Kaluuya. Lil Rey Howery provides the humour in his supporting role as a TSA officer who’s always there to bark down the phone to Chris.

 

Another key aspect of the movies success is its antagonists. We aren’t dealing with unseen monsters lurking in the shadows, no murderers in hockey masks. Nope, we are dealing with white middle-class folks, every day types, bingo playing, Obama supporting citizens. There’s a familiarity about these people that lends another unsettling layer to the movie. When Chris confronts the (black) maid about his unease around white people, she tears open in unsettling, supressed emotion and it becomes clear that our antagonists are very bad indeed.

 

The movie hurtles to a crushing crescendo and Peele delivers another commentary piece swathed in full horror movie conventions. It’s clear that in less able, less confident hands, this movie could have been a disaster but Peele steers the ship masterfully and in-between all of the messages lies a great, suspenseful horror movie.

 

Get Out…and see this movie.

Best Original Screenplay

April 3rd 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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