Mainstream horror is in a funk. Let’s just admit it. There are other options in the horror market that doesn’t rely on the tired trope of jump scares or shock value, but those are mostly in the indie/underground area that you only hear about through word of mouth.
Jordan Peele is a well known comedy writer and actor that had his television presence felt on Fox’s ‘Mad TV’. From there, he and his best friend, Keegan-Michael Key, created the widely successful show ‘Key and Peele’. After that show ended, a lot of people wondered what would be Peele’s next move. Would it be more in the realm of comedy, or in a different genre that we had never really seen him dabble in? Well, let’s find out what comes up as Jordan Peele takes a dip into the genre of horror.
The story starts with a bit of creepiness to give you an idea of how easy and simple it is to kidnap someone, and lets you know that subtly will be the name of the game for the direction from Peele. Peele takes the film in a way that refreshingly harkens back to classic horror films. Even more so that it doesn’t rely on that gore factor that you might expect from today’s horror standards. There is maybe a scene here and there where something will play out in the background or back story that gives you that sense of tension. Or a scene will build to a slow head in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you but still keeps your heart racing.
The best example of this method is a scene where Missy Armitage (Keener) treats Chris’s dependency on smoking by using a form of hypnotherapy. The scene starts off innocently enough as a mother just wanting to ask a few questions in concern for her daughter’s well-being. This plays out in a way that hits you out of left field, and puts you into Chris’s point of view as he slowly comes to the realization that he is the Armitage’s next victim.
The acting in here is top notch, and I don’t mean just the main cast. Everyone fills their role perfectly so that it never took me out of the film. This being a film written by a comedian, you know there had to be a nice number of jokes to lighten the mood so that the film wouldn’t come off as too dreary.
Rod Williams (Howery) plays Chris’s best friend and is a great representation of what the audience would say if they were in his situation; he’s basically the viewer that’s figuring out what will happen in the story, while at the same time epitomizing the person we all are as we watch these types of films and scream “GET OUT” or “RUN, BITCH, RUN”.
Another set of folks that shine in this film is Andrew, played by Lakeith Stanfield, and Georgina, played by Betty Gabriel. Even though they are only in the movie for about 10-15 minutes collectively, they both express the horrors that await our leading man in such a way that you can only feel terrible for knowing what’s happening to them on the inside.
I’ll come out and say that I was shocked to hear that Jordan Peele’s next project was a horror film and expected it to be a complete dud or “meh” at most, but was glad to be wrong. Jordan Peele proves in this film that he has a serious eye when it comes to direction work and storytelling that isn’t just in the realm of comedy.
If you want something different in your horror diet that is an amount of welcomed fresh air, then go see it and check out why the film has gotten a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a film for horror and non-horror fans alike.