Written by: Jordan Peele
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) meets his girlfriend's parents, but the trip becomes increasingly strange when he's not sure if they approve of the inter-racial relationship.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Jordan Peele, part of the comedy duo Key and Peele (2012-15). Based on his show I assumed this might be a parody, but the trailer dispelled that notion. He's crafted a solid story that avoids the usual horror movie tropes, with a social awareness that elevates this to an introspective level. Horror movie directors should take notes on how he builds tension.
This opens with an oft used horror movie invention, an unrelated scene that sets up the mystery or horror. Starting with a black man lost in a white suburban neighborhood, when a nice car slows, he's afraid he's going to get harassed for being out of place. You need to see the movie for what happens, but the title card soon follows. Peele says a lot based on implication alone.
Chris is visiting his girlfriend Rose's parents for the first time. She tells him he's her first black boyfriend, and he's concerned about her them. Do they know? Will they be concerned?
Her parents are over the top in trying to relate to him, her dad claiming he'd vote for Obama for a third time and continually saying "my man." While Rose's parents are awkward, they seem earnest.
This is Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) meets The Stepford Wives (1975), but it doesn't stop at that. Chris's begins to suspect something isn't right, especially when the other black people he happens to meet act robotic. He phones his friend TSA agent Rod, who's back home dog sitting for Chris. Rod is genre savvy. He provides well-timed comedic relief, telling Chris early on not to visit a white girl's parents. Rod's concern propels him to investigate, putting his TSA skills to use.
Kaluuya is great. He conveys the awkwardness of coping with a foreign environment well. I first saw him in Black Mirror Season 1. You root for him, and while his arc becomes over the top and horrifying, he's completely justified. The ending continues to escalate and even plays into stereotyping. It's a masterful sequence.
There are numerous directing queues throughout that combined with the music really heightens the tension or shock as Chris uncovers more of a sinister conspiracy.
The ending as seen wasn't the one originally planned. Check out wikipedia for the ending Jordan Peel first planned, but beware of spoilers. Peele has said he wants to tackle various social issues through movies as he did with Get Out.