“This is a whole nother level!” Jordan Peele's former partner, Keegan-Michael Key, had a character on Mad TV who would meet other celebrities and talk about how what they were doing was a “whole nudda’ level!” with increasing volume, pitch, and intensity. It was a funny bit. And now it seems Jordan Peele has taken things to a “Ho Nuh Le’el!!!” himself. After appearances in a number of films and his own successful Comedy Central show with partner Key, Jordan Peele took the horror world by storm when he announced the arrival of “Get Out” this past fall. And, good lord, does he hit that next level!
Photographer “Chris” (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams) are heading out to visit her parents for an annual weekend gathering. Naturally, Chris is concerned with possible racial tension between he and her family when he reminds her that he is, in fact, black. She is, in fact, white. He is afraid the affluent family may not be entirely comfortable with the racial differences of the couple. But there’s nothing to fear here, she assures him. And the family seems all too interested in setting the young man’s mind at ease. Dad would have gladly voted Obama for a third term and everyone wants Chris to know that they are very cool with him being black. Their friends, nearly all white and affluent, are also perfectly fine with his being black. Many are uncomfortably admiring his blackness, not only as an exotic state but one of utmost importance. Everyone seems very glad that Chris is black and they constantly ask about his experiences as a black man in America.
It's a stark look at race relations in the modern era. These people aren’t looking to lynch Chris or use the dreaded “N” word… what they are is far scarier and far more accurate a portrayal of racism in the modern era. And horror does what it supposed to do as it peels back the layers to reveal a darkness within that we are often too frightened to look at ourselves. This is horror at it’s absolute best! It’s a whole nother level. It’s a brilliant exploration with some complex performances, especially from Kaluuya and Williams, who carry the film on their respective shoulders. From the horror and dread, Peele knows how to turn that screw and then release the valve at the right moments with uncomfortable levity and downright hilarious dialogue from Chris’ best friend, played by Lil Rel howery.
9.5 in this PERFECT exploration of racial tension through the horror lens. If you love horror, see this movie. If race relations concern you, see this movie. If you love brilliant direction and fine performances, SEE THIS MOVIE!!! Look, just see this movie… it is the best thing I’ve seen so far from 2017 and it’s going to take a whole lot to rattle this ones standing.
*Streaming Review: Netflix
I am Not a Serial Killer
Based on the first in a series of books by author Dan Wells, this film stars Max Records as protagonist teen, John Wayne Cleaver. He’s a young man who lives and works with his mother and aunt in their mortuary business. He’s got trouble at school, doesn’t have too many friends, and he’s a sociopath well on his way to being a serial killer. But John doesn’t want that and so he follows a strict set of rules in order to maintain a sense of “normalcy”, which includes maintaining friendships, social interaction (including a terrific performance from Christopher Lloyd as Johns neighbor, a sickly man devoted to his wife while living out his final days), regular meetings with his therapist, avoiding patterns of stalking, and complimenting peope he has a desire to kill. And all seems balanced, such as it is, until his small town is beset by a series of strange and grisly murders.
John is intrigued that there may be someone just like him in his too-small village and goes about trying to solve the case and piece together the clues, which upsets his pattern of rules and sends him on a spiral that could cost him the fragile humanity he struggles to maintain. The twists and turns are constant and the film constantly reminds us that Johns hold on humanity is fragile at best.
9 out of 10 and a definite “must see” for genre fans.
*EDIT: I incorrectly identified Jordan Peele's partner, Keegan-Michael Key due to misreading a photograph on IMDB. The review has been corrected.