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dir-scr Jordan Peele
prd Jason Blum, Edward H Hamm Jr, Sean McKittrick, Jordan Peele
with Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Lil Rel Howery, Caleb Landry Jones, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, Ashley LeConte Campbell, John Wilmot
release US 24.Feb.17, UK 17.Mar.17
17/US Universal 1h43
Meet the parents: Kaluuya and Williams
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With fiendishly clever writing and witty direction, comedian Jordan Peele makes one of the freshest horror movies in years. The film is smart and engaging, with thematic depth and complex characters who offer continual surprises. And as it pokes us with its underlying messages, it's also a genuinely unnerving freak-out.
When Rose (Williams) invites her boyfriend Chris (Kaluuya) home to meet her liberal parents Missy and Dean (Keener and Whitford), she assures him that they will have no trouble at all with him being black. But things are rather off-balance at their isolated New England home, from the eerie maid and gardener (Gabriel and Henderson) to Rose's surly brother Jeremy (Jones). As the weekend turns increasingly bizarre, Chris expresses his concerns by phone to his dog-sitting pal Rod (Howery). And things become odder still when Missy and Dean's friends arrive for their annual party.
Peele undermines the audience's stability at every step, with hilariously askance dialog and camerawork that keeps pushing us far too close to someone who seems just all wrong, as Toby Oliver's offbeat cinematography and Michael Abels' disorienting score are deployed to maximum effect. Peele also offers escape valves in witty asides and awkward moments. Most impressive is the way he uses dry humour to weave in subtly complex, devastatingly pointed commentary about race relations in American society.
The cast is note perfect. Kaluuya is a likeable central character, sympathetic and resourceful as he faces each increasingly mind-bending revelation. He also shines as he weaves in a resonant and smartly relevant back-story. The lively Williams and Whitford bring a superbly off-the-cuff quality to their roles, and the slyly smirking Keener gets to have a lot more fun as a hypnotic shrink. Meanwhile, Gabriel and Henderson are marvellously creepy as they keep invading our personal space, while Howery adds essential comic relief as the goofball who's one step removed from the action.
At a time when most horror movies are merely mindless assemblies of cheap scares, this film delivers a blast of originality. It's genuinely unsettling, sometimes downright terrifying, and intelligent enough to engage the audience both mentally and emotionally. Peele gleefully references classic scary films all the way through, upending stereotypes with wicked abandon and continually catching us out on our preconceptions and, yes, prejudices. Which means that it's not only one of the most entertaining movies of the year, but also one of the most important.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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