Audiences and fans were wondering why Jordan Peele, a comedian known for sketch shows, decided to make a horror feature for his directorial debut. Peele is probably most known for being half of Comedy Central’s hit comedy duo Key and Peele. Unfortunately, the show has ended, but this has also allowed both comedians to pursue other interests. The show was made up of sketches that dealt with important social commentary in humorous ways. Here is my personal favorite sketch from the show, which has Jordan Peele playing Mr. T in a cheesy 80’s style PSA.
Peele is more than just a comedian, as proven by this film. This film is simply brilliant! It is a superb mix of comedy, horror and social satire. The show was a clear influence on Peele and his comedic style, but he also seems to be a big fan of the horror genre as a whole. I noticed many visual and verbal clues to horror masterpieces such as The Shining, Halloween, and Rosemary’s Baby, among others.
There were so many great elements in this film, but the screenplay was the best part for me. I’m a huge fan of thriller and horror films that take place in mostly one location. This creates a more horrific atmosphere and traps the audience with the characters. The film uses its one location to great effect.
It is also a tight script overall. Everything setup in the first act is perfectly paid off in the third. The film also delivers some solid reversals and reveals throughout. You’d expect a horror film created by a comedian to have issues with tonal shifts, but this film handles the tone changes expertly.
The performances were great too, especially when compared to other horror films. I didn’t recognize many of the actors, but they’re all going to do great things in the near future. This is also another testament to Peele’s talents as a director. There is just something powerful about an actor who switches to the director’s chair. If they have some directing talent, they seem to get better performances overall.
I have to talk about the cinematography. This is a visual treat. The visuals also perfectly build onto the horror and dread throughout the picture. I loved the overall look of the film and there were quite a few visuals that made my jaw drop. I also noticed many subtle nods and homages to other horror films.
The score is terrific and creates an eerie mood from the start. I loved the sound design as well, which is an important part of any film, but especially horror films. The spoon clanking and rubbing against the tea-cup is a sound I’ll never forget.
This is a horror film that leaves you with a sense of dread, which follows you all the way home. Horror films rarely pull this off nowadays. It is a near impossible feat in the modern age because horror audiences are desensitized to violence due to many factors, especially the early 2000’s wave of torture porn films (Saw series, the films of the splat pack).
The way that violence is handled in this film is another example of Jordan’s love for the genre. The violence often happens on-screen but is hidden by a wall and other obstructions. Instead of throwing gore in the face of audiences, this film takes the more horrifying route by forcing audiences to fill in the gaps. This is clearly influenced by horror masterpieces such as Jaws, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween.
The modern trend of art and independent horror films (It Follows, The Witch, The Babadook, among others) are breathing new life into the genre. Production companies such as Blumhouse and A24 have been releasing solid horror flicks recently. As a fan of the genre (horror is what got me into movies in the first place), I’m excited about this modern trend.
Occasionally, I see a film that really blows me away. A film that reminds me of why I love movies and why I decided to become a filmmaker. This is one of those films. This is the first truly great film of 2017 and one of the most unique horror films I’ve seen in a long time.
Written by William David Glenn IV