Daniel Kaluuya (my favorite Black Mirror actor) is dating Allison Williams (my fourth-favorite Girls actress), comes to visit her parents Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford and brother Caleb Landry Jones (Antiviral) in an aggressively white suburb. At first there’s the socially-awkward but not overtly threatening kind of racial tension: dad brags about his Obama support and all the white family’s employees are black. But things get weirder after the mom hypnotizes Kaluuya and now he can’t tell if he’s being paranoid or if there’s a conspiracy, until it’s too late and he’s tied to a chair in the basement being prepped for brain surgery, so the highest bidder (blind Stephen Root) can flee his aging white body and live fifty more years inside Kaluuya’s.

A finely crafted thriller, and I’d never in a million years guess it was from the writer of Keanu. I could tell that Peele had made a super-effective movie when the white Nebraska audience at my crowded screening erupted in cheers when Allison Williams got shot (or maybe she’s just their least-favorite Girls actress as well). Betty Gabriel (The Purge 3) and Marcus Henderson (Insidious 4) play the grandparents play-acting as servants (she’s especially good – coldly suspicious then briefly vulnerable). Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12 and Atlanta, Snoop in Straight Outta Compton) is the party guest who yells the title line at Kaluuya when a camera flash wakes him from “the sunken place.” And comedian Lil Rel Howery is Kaluuya’s buddy in the TSA who gets all the best lines.

Some of the reception has focused on whether it’s a scary/effective horror movie, which is the same kind of horror-purist bickering that lowered appreciation for Cabin in the Woods and The Witch. Come on everyone, break out of your genre holes. Peele more accurately calls it a “social thriller,” and says he’s working on four more.


One minute in, this movie that will play every mall in America makes it viscerally clear that it’s not black guys who are scary — it’s neighborhoods packed with sheltered dopes who quake at the very thought of black guys … Get Out is searing satire, with scary/comic riffs on slavery and assimilation, but it’s also a smashing crowd-pleaser of a horror film, complete with mad science, cult-like crazies and a creep-out homage to Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin … But even as Peele brings the house down, we see the serious toll of all this horror on Chris’ face and body. Neither the movie nor anybody watching can take it all as a joke.

I didn’t set out to watch Brainiac: The Baron of Terror – nobody does. But these blog posts don’t write themselves. Sometimes when I’m sitting and writing about horror movies, I wish I was simply watching more horror movies, so I’ll half-watch some half-assed movie while writing. I doubt this one even makes it up to quarter-assed, so I’ll be brief.

Is this set in Spain, or did the Spanish Inquisition make it to Mexico? Very promising opening: in 1661 the Baron, who has magical powers to release himself from his chains (so, why doesn’t he simply escape the inquisitor?) is sentenced to burn, swears he’ll take his revenge in 300 years. Not a bad looking movie (except for a ludicrous optical effect of a comet) or story. But then comes the revenge, wherein the Baron puts on a silly hairy rubber mask with a long plastic tongue and puts his hands on his victims’ shoulders until they fall down. Supposedly he is sucking out their brains with the evil tongue, which he then stores in a canister and eats when needs some quick energy. At the end our hero discovers the canister, and I figure he’ll chuck it against a wall and the Baron will lose his magic, but instead two guys with flamethrowers bust in and torch the Baron – didn’t see that coming.

Heroes: Rubén Rojo of King of Kings and Rosa María Gallardo of Los secretos del sexo débil

A few translation problems: the grand inquisitor accuses the Baron of using spells “for clumsy and dishonest purposes,” and later an astronomer states “This is the most interesting thing about what I am telling you.” From the director of Blue Demon vs. The Infernal Brains (the guy had a thing for brains) and starring the movie’s own producer as the Baron.