Jordan Peele’s directional debut is both a race satire and a horror flick. It begins presumably with a interracial romance. Chris, played by Brit, Daniel Kaluuya, is profiled while “suburb walking”. He is meeting girlfriend Rose ‘s family for the first time. The Michael Abels’ musical score begins with “Run, Rabbit, Run”, and it uses this Noel Gay and Ralph Butler WWII song throughout the film. Our trepidation and Chris’s is set.
The script is well-written and the pacing is superb. We want this couple to work. Why Peele, who is the product of a mixed-marriage and himself married to a White woman, doesn’t let it is to underscore the film’s point that racism kills. I consoled my romantic self with the fact that I don’t like Allison Williams that much anyway. She comes across as tough and haunty, too sure of herself for her young age. Distrust the masses, and here distrust your partner. Her character never gives a clue to her true loyalties. Rose understands all the micro-aggressions thrown at her honey. They seem in love. We hope for an “us against the world” foray. A scene where a deer is killed as the car headlights glow presages another end. Chris’ eyes look like the dying deer’s.
Enter the parents. Neurosurgeon Dad, named powerfully as Dean Armatage, is played by Bradley Whitford. His souvenir showing and travel bragging is given the apt cliche: ” It’s such a privilege to be able to experience another person’s culture.” His Frankenstein operations remind us of the genre.
Psychiatrist mother, named sweetly as Missy, is played by Catherine Keener. Oft type-cast as the hippie liberal, Keener here plays to type. Condescension is equated with liberals in this film, as is phoniness and worse. When Missy stirs her tea cup, Chris is hypnotized and sent ” to the sunken place”. A trauma from his past is used to disorientate him. Can he get out ? The black servant holdovers from Rose’s grandparents have not been able to. The groundskeeper, Walter, and the housekeeper, Georgina, and Rosy’s creepy, Kung Fu brother all add to the unease for photographer Chris. Photos, ironically, show him the way to run, and it is not into Rose’s arms.
One of the funniest and most loyal character is Rod, Chris’s TSA ( Transportation Security Administration) buddy, who house sits and walks Chris’s dog. Rod ( Milton “Lil Rel” Howery ) invokes auras of Jeffrey Daumer as he tells Chris, ” All I am doing is connecting the dots!” He interprets Chris’s retelling of the Armitage’s partygoers by yelling “sex slaves!” to tip Chris off.
The three phrases of ” brain surgery” and the violent antler pitchforking and strangling are brutal to watch. Here the film has a slasher quality. The violence is in overkill. Rod, again saves the downward spiral with his response to Chris’ ” How did you know?” ” I’m a fucking TSA !” Being proud of your work is way better than some trophy bride, I hear.