Jordan Peele may be more known as a
comedic personality, being a "MADtv" alumnus and one-half (with
Keegan-Michael Key) of the Key & Peele comedy team, but he has
adeptly stepped into the horror realm with his directorial
debut, "Get Out."
Peele has taken an already frightening
prospect - a young man meeting his girlfriend's parents - and
injected racial tension and some horrifying ulterior motives
into the mix and come up with a very smart and creepy thriller
in "Get Out."
Peele said in an interview he has been a
fan of horror since childhood, when he would watch scary movies
in the middle of the night while his mother slept. Around 2009
he began formulating the idea that would lead to "Get Out,"
speculating on what a thriller version of "Guess Who's Coming to
Dinner" would be like. This classic and award-winning 1967 movie
is about how a liberal white couple (Spencer Tracy and Katharine
Hepburn) react when their daughter introduces them to her
fiance, an African American (Sidney Portier). Rather than doing
a rehash of this, Peele wanted to inject the fear of being an
outsider in any situation and a feeling that something sinister
might be going on.
So: Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a
young black man who's been in a relationship with a white woman,
Rose Armitage (Allison Williams from "Girls"), for four months,
agrees to spend a weekend at her folks' house. She brushes off
his concerns that she has not informed her parents Chris is
black, assuring him that they are not racist. Meanwhile, Chris'
best friend Rod Williams (a scene-stealing LilRel Howery), a TSA
employee, warns him this visiting-the-parents thing could
lead to trouble.
When they arrive at the house, the young
people are greeted by the parents, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and
Missy (Catherine Keener), who show no signs of being shocked
that Chris is black. Indeed they embrace him, although Missy
expresses her disapproval of his smoking habit. A psychiatrist,
Missy insists she can cure Chris of his smoking habit via
hypnosis, an offer he respectfully declines.
With Dean being a doctor, the Armitage
household is definitely an upper-tier display of being
comfortably well off. It is also pretty secluded, which of
course is a red flag in the horror genre.
The Armitages also have two black people
working for them, a gardener named Walter (Marcus Henderson) and
a housekeeper, Georgina (Betty Gabriel). Dean tells Chris this
is not what it looks like -- Walter and Georgina had been hired
to care after Dean's aged parents and after the elderly people
died, Dean just did not have the heart to let them go, thus kept
them on. Chris seems to accept this, but he finds himself being
increasingly disturbed by the behavior of Georgina and Walter.
Peele admitted he injected some "Stepford Wives" sentiment into
"Get Out," and the two employees of the Armitages do seem a
little too blissfully content and robotic, as if brainwashes or
programmed. When Chris broaches to Georgina the subject of being
stuck into a subservient situation, her reaction is one of
Unable to sleep that first night, Chris
steps outside, but upon returning inside he encounters Missy,
who invites him to sit and chat. She starts asking probing
questions, tapping into memories he does not want to bring up.
It is all a ploy on Missy's part.
Haunted by his chat with Missy, Chris
has another issue to deal with -- the Armitage's are having what
is an annual event, inviting friends for a day-long soiree. Once
these people arrive, Chris is subjected to pandering, which he
can absorb politely, but then he has an unnerving encounter with
one of the guests, the only other black person in attendance.
Chris has phone conversations with Rod,
who grows increasingly concerned as Chris relates the strange
things occurring at the Armitage home. This motivates Rod to do
Peele's script unfolds in a way that
offers hints as to what is going on, and succeeds at a
revelation that packs a wallop. One can only hope that Chris can
summon of that Final Girl resourcefulness necessary for his
Kaluuya delivers a stellar performance
as a man who is accustomed to dealing with racism but soon grows
baffled and increasingly alarmed at creepy incidents unfolding
around him. As Rod, Howery provides the humor but steps up in
the clutch when things seem to be going bad for his buddy.
It is Gabriel as Georgina who really
ratchets up the creepy factor. Even though she putters around
dispassionately with quiet efficiency (for the most part),
something about her just screams: I am not right and the
scariest aspect is that I don't care I'm not right.
"Get Out" is one of those movies that
does not hammer the viewers with scares. It simply and quietly
taps into paranoia and foreboding. It is quite effective and
unsettling, the way a horror movie should be.
OUT" Official Trailer:
"TRUTH OR DARE"
Naturally, with a film titled "Truth or
Dare" there comes the challenge: I DARE you to watch it. That
should serve as ample warning that this little film is not for
those who tend to react squeamishly to onscreen violence.
There's horror, and there's HORROR. "Truth or Dare" is HORROR.
These are exciting times in the world of
scary movies in that women are making their mark in the genre as
writers, producers and directors of horror films. Among them is
Jessica Cameron, who co-wrote, with Jonathan Scott Higgins, and
directed "Truth or Dare" and took it on a successful worldwide
tour of festivals in which the movie garnered 19 awards. Among
the prizes were the Best Horror Feature at the Arizona
Underground Film Festival, Best Feature at the Calgary Horror
Con, the Jury Award at the Macabre Faire Film Festival, and
three awards at the Shockfest Film Festival: Best Actor to Ryan
Kiser and Best Director and Best Actress to Cameron.
Following this kudos-laden global
exposure, the film took awhile to get distribution into other
platforms (it was made in 2013). Offers to release it in DVD
would come with the compromise of cutting its more brutal
scenes. But Cameron held firm and finally it has been released
on DVD in its raw, uncut form.
For those who waited anxiously for this,
the patience has paid off. In a wonderfully gruesome way.
It is an understatement to call "Truth
or Dare" a cautionary tale, presenting a terrifying story of the
dark, vicious underbelly of fame delivered at the hands of
social media. Those who covet accelerated online traffic may
have to deal with not only the relatively sane fans, but the
downright demented ones as well.
Six college students -- three couples
actually -- have hit the jackpot with their "Truth or Dare"
video streams that offer a violent twist. They especially draw
attention when one of them, Tony (Brandon Van Vliet) may have
been fatally shot by fellow Truth or Daredevil Jennifer
(Cameron). The group subsequently appears on a talk show and
brings out Tony to show he really was not killed.
In the audience at the talk show is a
self-professed No. 1 fan of the "Truth or Dare" videos, Derik
(Kiser, who also stars as Charles Manson in "House of Manson").
When he makes a scene in trying to be recruited into the group,
he is banished from the building.
Later, the group reconvenes at a
secluded home purchased by John (Jesse Wilson), who has set up a
studio in which to video the next episodes of their show. Aside
from John, Jennifer and Tony, the group includes John's
girlfriend Courtney (Devanny Pinn, so chilling as Susan
Atkins in "House of Manson"), Tony's girlfriend Michelle
(Heather Dorff) and Jennifer's boyfriend Ray (Shelby Stehlin).
Just as the Truth or Daredevils begin to
work on their next show, who should crash in on them but their
No. 1 fan, Derik. Armed and certainly dangerous, Derik gets the
upper hand and demands that they continue their "Truth or Dare"
game, but under his rules. With one member of the group already
"out of the game" (in other words, no longer breathing), the
group has no choice but to concede to Derik's decrees.
Unfortunately, in Derik's opinion, the show lacks structure and
realism and he believes this cheats the fans. So he is here to
In the first round of the game, the five
remaining Truth or Daredevils opt for truth rather than dares.
But this turns ugly.
As in other horror movies in which
viewers have to dispense with disbelief and accept that killers
like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger never die
despite all the weapons and artillery used on them, "Truth or
Dare" at this point forces the viewer to believe that Derik has
managed to dig up deep secrets the Truth or Daredevils have been
keeping from each other (even their lovers). But this is a risk
that is brought up -- suggesting the real dangers of too
much personal information being accessible to people who are
savvy enough to find and exploit it.
Of course, some of these secrets
revealed are pretty bad and it leads to, well, discord among the
group members. So naturally in the ensuing rounds they opt for
dares rather than truths.
And that's when it gets really brutal.
You can develop a grudging admiration
for Derik's madness. This guy is focused on his mission. As he
says, "Truth or Dare" "belongs to the fans" and it is the
obligation of the Truth or Daredevils to give them a bloody good
show. Derik's investment in the show -- "You're not just
videos," he declares, "you're an inspiration, at least to me" --
along with his sick creativity help achieve this goal. Each
round gets more brutal. And even if these people survive the
dares they are irreparably damaged.
Of the group, Jennifer and Michelle are
the gutsiest. Indeed, when Jennifer completes a dare without
batting an eye, it seems she might be momentarily getting into
the gory spirit of the proceedings. Later Jennifer and Michelle
are the only ones to actually attempt to physically derail
Kiser's Derik is a bundle of nervous,
misguided and psychotic energy. He is a tragic figure, wrapping
his life around something so trivial as people videotaping fake
violence to garner hits on the internet.
The rest of the cast is put through such
cringe-worthy punishment, and for all that is revealed about
them, the fact that they do not deserve the horror they endure
makes "Truth or Dare" an effective and terrifying film. Cameron
did a superb job of recruiting dedicated people, beyond the
cast, who helped her create this film on a small budget. Credit
goes out to Carrie Mercado, the makeup artist and special
effects makeup artist, as well as the visual effects team of
Aaron M. Lane and Adam Lima. Cameron, outspoken in her disdain
for CGI effects, brought on board people who share her
enthusiasm for practical special effects.
"Truth or Dare" comes with a warning.
This is uncompromising violence and not for the casual horror
fans who enjoy films that simply make them jump or feel uneasy.
This movie does flat out dare you to watch, and even the most
hardcore fans of this genre will find themselves of accelerated
heart rates, possibly sweating and shaking, at the conclusion of
the film. But then dare yourself NOT to watch it again. You
might lose that dare.