Key & Peele was one of the best comedy shows ever, and I still think Jordan Peele’s best movie is Keanu — a comedy about a cat. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have some fun with Get Out (it was good, but come on folks, it’s not nearly as great as everyone claims). Although, he did win an Oscar for writing it, so what do I know?
Now, he may be painting himself into a corner as a modern day Hitchcock (more Cronenberg or Carpenter, to me). Hopefully he doesn’t feel as if he has to keep churning out socially aware horror films. And this one, coming out just weeks before his rebooting of The Twilight Zone show, made me think — perhaps this would’ve been better as a one hour episode of that.
The story is about the Wilson family vacation, which turns out a lot worse than the Griswold’s. Mom Adelaide is played by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who is amazing in a dual role. Her husband Gabe is played by Winston Duke (Black Panther). He’s not chopped liver, either. He has to play that dad character who has the dad bod, and tells the cheesy dad jokes, but is also kind of hip and funny, too. He actually reminded me of Jordan Peele (which makes sense since, Peele wrote the script).
The children do the usual things kids do these days. Jason (Evan Alex) tries to learn magic tricks and likes to wear a werewolf Halloween mask. Older sister Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), likes to complain about school and wanting to quit the track team, while spending most of her time on her iPhone and with earbuds in listening to her tunes.
They go to their summer vacation home on the coast of Santa Cruz. Adelaide is nervous about this, and we understand why. The start of the movie shows her there as a child wearing a Michael Jackson shirt [insert your own MJ joke here]. In a fun house with mirrors everywhere, she sees a girl that looks just like her. It’s a traumatic experience that leaves her speechless for awhile.
They meet up with their friends/neighbors, the Tylers (Elisabeth Moss of Handmaid’s Tale and Tim Heidecker). They seem to spend all their time drinking on the beach, when they’re not in their huge home blasting out The Beach Boys (oh come on, Peele: us white folks don’t just listen to bands like that; although that segues nicely into the best use of an NWA song in movie history, including Straight Outta Compton).
As you’ve seen from the really creepy trailer, another family shows up outside the Wilson home. They look a lot like the Wilson’s. Well, aside from the boy, who is wearing a mask and moving like the gimp in Pulp Fiction and making scary guttural sounds.
Peele borrows from many other films, but he makes the stuff all his own. He does a much better job paying homage than a director like Tarantino, who seems to just lift scenes from the movies he loves. Often times, this felt like Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets Zombieland. In fact, many times a person was taken out in a bloody fashion, I felt like I was watching zombies being picked off. That got old quick.
And what was so frustrating is that the first act was so interesting, and by the third act, it was all so unfocused and crazy (despite a terrific reveal near the end).
There were many great set pieces, and Peele uses lighting wonderfully. The sounds were eerie, and a terrific score was provided by Michael Abel (at one point, the Latin chants reminded me of something from The Omen).
This film also had more rabbits than even last year’s The Favourite. And they suffer a worse fate.
On the way home, my wife was so excited talking about this film. She loved it. When I brought up some plot holes she said, “Really? You want to talk about flaws and logic in a horror movie?”
I can only give this movie 2 stars. She said she would easily give it 4 stars out of 5. And most of you should probably take her word on it, since it’s currently getting a high 98% good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.