R. In a world where horror has been taken over by tweens, it is good to see a movie that dares to be R. (I now dare you to re-read that without thinking of the movie trailer voice.)
DIRECTOR: Jordan Peele
Oh golly gee, I really don't want to write this today. I don't care to write more than one a day. Also, this is the last movie I saw so I'm going to be silent on this page for a while until I can knock out another movie. It's just that I'm going to get a huge stack of papers tomorrow and I know that it would just make sense to get this done now when I have the time. Also, this movie is pretty great and I should really review it while it's fresh. I just know that the quality of my writing goes to pot when I try squeezing more than one in a day. It's not like the writing is that good to begin with. (And he casts the line into the water.)
This, until VERY recently, held the coveted 100% fresh award on Rotten Tomatoes. Very few things every hit that. It's been holding at 99% and I don't see it going down at all. There's a good reason for the 100% approval rating: the movie is good and original. It's weird to think that Blumhouse is holding such spectacular reviews, but that's very closeminded of me. The great thing is that this movie is still a horror movie. Yes, it spins some of the formula on its head, like many of the great horror movies do. But this movie is unashamedly a horror movie, often portrayed as appealing to trolls and the disturbed. Considering the heavy social themes in the movie, I love that it took a horror movie to convey many of these ideas. I need to stress one thing that I think many people aren't necessarily picking up on. While the theme is clear, the movie never really gets preachy. Yes, it is present and in your face, but the movie itself is non-accusatory or manipulative. Rather, it treats racial order as a matter of fact. Peele has made a movie without having to explain to Americans what race is all about. There is no convincing. This is life and the audience has to deal with it. That's why the horror movie aspect works to this film. The movie focuses on the scariness of the world and embraces that the world sucks in terms of race relations.
I got really excited for this movie when I saw the trailer. "Written and directed by Jordan Peele"? Yes, sign me up. The man is a genius and extremely passionate. While Keanu could have been better, there certainly was an artist behind the creation of that work. I applaud him for doing something so divisive as a horror movie as a followup to an illustrious comedy career. Fans of Key & Peele probably recognize that the talents behind that show are fans whatever they choose to embrace. That might be the biggest difference between variety shows like Saturday Night Live and truly crafted work like Key & Peele. Those guys respect whatever they are making versus telling a quick joke. It makes sense that Peele used whatever skills he learned from his show to make an amazingly crafted horror movie. All of the elements were there for the show; it just took the opportunity to deliver something outside of the realm of comedy.
Very rarely do I get excited about seeing the "Written and Directed" prompt by one name. I often complain about it when it comes to the Star Wars prequels. Jordan Peele might enter the hallowed halls of the few people who can really pull it off. Not only that, but Peele should be doing this. The highest praise that I can give this movie is the attention that went into crafting this film. This movie is meticulously made. Every line and every shot matter. There's one plothole in the movie that is pretty minor, but Peele has spent so much time deliberating over every moment that I question whether or not Peele himself made a mistake or I just didn't catch a line somewhere. Like Edgar Wright, the movie is very tight. Throwaway lines I just picked up on days later when discussing it with others. Peele makes daily conversation carry weight in a way that I rarely see a director pull off. This movie must have been absolute Hell to edit because it seemed like so much really mattered. I love that. Peele respects both his own artwork, but he also seems to respect an audience that pays attention. I don't know if my wife would have liked the movie as much because this movie requires the viewer to be constantly active and engaged. I was the annoying guy during this movie, whispering to my brother-in-law theories about the movie and Peele does a phenomenal job not only supporting my theories until the revelatory moment, but does a hard right turn before proving me wrong. I love that so much.
The weird part about this movie having a 99% approval rating is that the movie sincerely goofy when it comes to plot points. But Peele does something marvelous with a bizarre idea. He makes those ideas not only acceptable, but absolutely terrifying. My wife wanted all the spoilers because she knew that she wouldn't sit down and watch it. Me trying to summarize this movie made me sound like a crazy person. The movie sounded dumber than it was because I couldn't explain the intensity with the way he shot it. Hypnotism is dumb. But the way he presented hypnotism? That's horrifying. But you try telling someone this plot and try not to make it sound dumb. But that's part of Peele's respect for the genre. He takes goofy ideas that we see in these kinds of horror movie and puts a level of greatness to it.
Listen, I've gushed about this movie quite a bit. I probably gushed more than I should have. But this movie is really good. I love really good horror movies because so many of them are terrible. It's new yet similar. How great it that? Also, how weird is it that Bradley Whitford has been in the two most subversive great horror movies of the past decade?
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.