Us (2019)

us-2019-movie-review.jpg

Direction: Jordan Peele
Country: USA

The much-anticipated sophomore film from Jordan Peele, Us, is funny, strange, and unnerving and it’s here to show the director’s expertise in blending comedy and horror with a very personal tone. Two years ago, he managed to consistently entertain with the distinguishable Get Out and his creativity didn’t fail him again on this new exciting puzzle movie where an Afro-American family has a hard time defeating their menacing doppelgängers.

In 1986, the young Adelaide Wilson (Madison Curry) had a very traumatizing experience when she entered a funhouse located at Santa Cruz beach, California. The welcoming sign states ‘Vision Quest: find yourself’. Many years have passed and the now mature Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o) returns to the same location for a summer vacation period in the company of her funny husband, Gabe (Winston Duke), and their two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). However, the place has a weird effect on her and the unresolved predicaments inhabiting her subconscious emerge stronger, installing paranoia.

us-2019.jpg

The fright turns into panic when a four-member family, looking exactly like them, silently invade their place to threaten their lives. They are fearless and aggressive. Have you ever imagined if you had to fight your devilish equal? The explanations for the mystery lie obviously in the past, but what is confusing is that their friends, Josh (Tim Heidecker) and Kitty Tyler (Elisabeth Moss) and their twin daughters are also visited by harmful variants of themselves. The attacks are ironically perpetrated at the sound of The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” and then N.W.A.’s 1988 hip-hop hit “Fuck Tha Police”, which I consider extraordinary for the occasion since cops remained out of sight even after being called.

If Adelaide revealed unheralded courage in the face of danger, Gabe made me laugh several times with his asinine observations and incautious actions. He was entrusted with the comedic mission and succeeded.

Even with some over-the-top extravagance popping up here and there, the inventive script definitely puts Peele among the greats of the genre. Moreover, as if the parallel realities weren’t enough to intrigue, he reserves a wonderful twist for the finale that made me draw comparisons with the real world. Executed with stylistic brio and acted accordingly, Us is a smart move that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

4.jpeg

Get Out (2017)

get-out-2017

Directed by Jordan Peele
Country: USA

Simultaneously a creepy horror movie and a witty comedy, "Get Out" is the debut feature from actor-turned-director Jordan Peele, who also wrote and produced.
Influenced by the 1975 cult classic "The Stepford Wives", Peele challenges us with a tale where a black man gets trapped in a house with a deranged white family. 

Peele’s script focuses on the apparently harmless relationship between young African-American photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his caring white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). Chris becomes anxious about the fact that Rose’s parents, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener), are unaware he’s black. However, he gratefully embraces an invitation to their estate after she assures him they’re not racists.

But it’s worse – and weirder – than he imagined, as Rose’s family act increasingly suspiciously. Her brother can’t contain his impulsive aggression, Dean plays the good guy but clearly has something to hide, and Missy hypnotizes Chris against his will. What puzzles Chris even more in this overwhelmingly white milieu is how even the house’s two African-American employees seem devious and unfriendly.

The film, bolstered by its pronounced racial politics, comes out at a time of elevated racial tension, especially in the US, in which prejudice and discrimination are rife and are constantly being questioned by cinema. The issue of race has been addressed recently in earnest documentaries such as "13th" and "I Am Not Your Negro" and in fact-based dramas like "Hidden Figures", "Fences", and "A United Kingdom". In contrast to these, Get Out is an entirely fictional movie that combines genres with aplomb.

Peele crafts an ingenious plot that says much about inequality and the uncomfortable coexistence between blacks and whites. While the former are portrayed as victims, the latter are shaped as artful supremacists and tenacious manipulators. However, the filmmaker manages to alleviate any contention caused by the topic’s heaviness by infusing wit and irony, resulting in a very entertaining work.

The low budget didn’t hamper Peele from assuring strong production values, which include a suitably disquieting score by Michael Abels, sympathetic photography by Toby Oliver, and solid special effects.

Despite the misleading first impression, the observant satire shifts its primary focus of tension from racial to psychological to survival. Expect a bloody, violent finale with considerable doses of humor, more in the line of "Shaun of the Dead" than "What We Do in the Shadows".

Cleverly written, beautifully enacted, and gripping from the first scene to the last, "Get Out" has all the ingredients to be remembered in the future as a gem of the comedy horror genre. It’s even more outstanding when considered as a directorial debut.