Get Out (3.5/5)

So I just got home from seeing Jordan Peele’s (of Key & Peele!) directorial debut, Get Out. When I first saw a trailer for this movie, it looked like it was going to be yet another one of those “Urmurgurd white pepol r eeeeevil” flicks that are now a dime a dozen. However, it not only got good reviews, but it was also a horror movie. Plus, it looked like a satirical horror black comedy that actually looked kind of disturbing. I figured I may as well check it out. I held my nose and purchased my ticket. And I am happy to say that this movie’s message is not “white people are evil”. This isn’t Assata Shakur’s wet dream. Thank heaven. While racism is a prevalent theme in Get Out, it is used as merely a plot point, and refuses to go anywhere near generalization. It uses racism as a platform on which to create a nice little horror flick. The trailers may have looked preachy, but the film is not. Not even close. While a little of the racially charged dialogue in the first act did get on my nerves somewhat, the movie dropped that gimmick as soon as we got into the second act. In one scene in which Chris and Rose hit a deer and a cop shows up, Coppy asks for Chris’s driver’s license as well as Rose’s, even though Rose was driving. Uh, Jordan, stuff like that does not happen.

Though I fully admit that Get Out is a good movie, I’m pretty sure that the source of this movie’s glowing reviews are mostly just white liberals desperately trying to virtue signal.

I need to point out something that annoyed me: the handful of silly and unnecessary jumpscares. I remember there being three, four, or maybe five of them. The most obvious one is this one. The second act is starting. It’s the first night Chris and Rose are staying at Rose’s parents’ place for the weekend. Chris wakes up in the middle of the night and decides to go outside and get some air. While he’s walking through the house, Georgina walks into frame in the background. Chris doesn’t even see her, but the soundtrack feels the need to insert a silly and unnecessarily loud instrumental sting. I don’t know if Jordan Peele had those put in the movie or if they were forced into the movie by Jason Blum, but they’re annoying and completely destroy any sense of immersion. Learn from this, Jordan or Jason. Though I was debating with myself over the idea that maybe Get Out was trying to satirize the cheap jumpscare, but I ultimately settled on the conclusion that if that was Jordan’s idea, it was very poorly implemented. I’ve seen movies like Creep that try to satirize the cheap jumpscare that just become exactly what they’re satirizing, and I don’t particularly care for them.

I love the soundtrack, particularly the tracks “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga” and “Surgery Prep”. While they’re pretty unsettling on their own, when they’re played in context of the movie, they become legitimately scary. Find them on YouTube.

Now, I went into this movie having only seen the trailers, so the creativity of the plot caught me off guard. I love how the villains are not motivated by racism; rather, by the opposite. This is because Jordan Peele wrote this story as a showcase of the internalized “racism” of white liberals. I especially love that most liberal film critics didn’t even pick up on that, instead coming up with laughable explanations as to how this movie calls out those eeeeevil right-wingers for their racism. I love that the movie not only shoves liberal reverse racism to the forefront with condescension toward and fetishization of black people, but also points out that black people can be racist too. I love how Jordan Peele, a black man married to a white woman, can have such a unique perspective on racial tension in American society in showing that racism cuts both ways. I love the contrast between the slightly awkward actions of Rose’s parents in front of Chris and the depraved creatures they really are. I love Rod and his comic relief. I rarely say that I love comic relief, but Rod is hilarious. The acting is actually pretty good, really nailing each character’s mannerisms. I love just how creepy the exchanges between Chris, Walter, Georgina, and “Logan” are, where you know something’s wrong with them, but you can’t quite place what it is. I love how the first half of the movoe presents the question of whether there’s something really wrong going on, or if Chris is just reacting to stereotypical racial tension. I love the constant sense of discomfort that you just can’t quite put your finger on until we’re already balls-deep and balls-to-the-wall. I love that for a slow-burn thriller, it was never boring. I love just how passive-aggressive the tone is until the movie totally flips the balls-to-the-wall switch. I love just how balls-to-the-wall it gets. If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil the twist for you.

Unfortunately, I can only call Get Out a decent horror flick, because despite how original this idea is, it still matches other generic horror films in terms of structure. Its scare sequences still reek of studio bullcrap. And the climax, while balls-to-the-wall, just cannot manage to tie itself together. The exploration of various themes was not as thorough as was necessary.

Don’t get me wrong, Get Out is a good movie, and Jordan Peele has a bright future in Hollywood. But this movie has a few glaring flaws that prevent it from being better than it is, and I’m giving Get Out a 3.5 out of 5.


The Eyes of My Mother (.5/5)

So I’ve been dedicating this weekend toward catching up on 2016 in horror, as I’ve been incredibly busy at work since November (this is why there’s been no new full-fledged reviews lately). I’ve watched The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Don’t Breathe, both of which were pretty good but not fantastic, and I’d give both a 3.5 out of 5. I then watched Under the Shadow, which was decent but not quite as good as I had hoped, earning a 3 out of 5. And then, unfortunately, I finished off the night with The Eyes of My Mother, which was so ungodly disappointing. This movie has a 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has been considered one of the best horror movies of 2016 by critics and audiences, and I cannot for the life of me understand why. Yes, I know that all the “true horror buffs” are going to get up in my face and shout, “Oh, you just didn’t get it! You should stick to movies like The Forest and The Bye Bye Man! The only horror movies you like are ones with jumpscares, and you find slow-burn thrillers boring! The Eyes of My Mother is more than a movie; it’s a work of art!” SHUT UP AND LET ME EXPLAIN.

The plot: Francisca lives an isolated life. One day, a wandering entrepreneur killed her mother, but she and her father subdued him and locked him in their barn. Francisca cut out his eyes and vocal cords, and kept him in the barn for years. Her father died later in her life, so she preserved his body. Years pass. Francisca has sex with the imprisoned man in the barn. He tries to escape, so Francisca kills him. Francisca brings a lesbian Asian woman home and also locks her in the barn and cuts out her eyes and vocal cords. Francisca kidnaps a baby boy, murders his mother, and raises the baby as her own son. Years pass. The son discovers the woman in the barn and frees her. The woman escapes and the police swarm Francisca’s house. Francisca is killed by the police. There. That’s the plot. That’s it. That’s all. It takes seventy-six minutes to tell this story. A story this lean and short should take thirty or forty minutes at most.

This movie certainly seems to act like it’s an artsy movie because it’s in black and white, it looks like it was shot for a few thousand bucks, and because it moves along like…no, not molasses; that’s too fast. Personally, I think that the only reason that every scene is so ungodly slow, with ten-second pauses between every sparse line of dialogue, every character undertaking his or her actions in such a slow manner, and every shot lasting thirty seconds longer than it should, is because without those ungodly long pauses, the movie would only come out at about thirty minutes. It doesn’t help that the events in this movie were summed up in so little time.

But wait, isn’t that exactly what David Lynch did with Eraserhead? Not quite. Here’s why Eraserhead worked and this movie does not. As slow-paced as Eraserhead was, it at least told a story. It developed the character of Henry and made us sympathize with him. It explored various psychological and sexual themes. Things happened. It took us on an acid trip through surreal sequences, dark humor, erotic and terrifying imagery, blurring of the line between dreams and reality, oppressively claustrophobic atmosphere and crushing sense of isolation, black and white cinematography that actually looked and sounded like a movie from the fifties, and a metaphorical story about the fear of fatherhood. It was never boring. More so; it was actually really scary. In The Eyes of My Mother, there is only one theme: loneliness. It set out to portray the lonely life of Francisca, and oh boy, it does so, to excruciating levels. We sit through seventy-six minutes of Francisca’s mundane life, and despite the movie’s pathetically short length, it painstakingly shows us every facet of her life in agonizing detail. Nearly nothing happens until the final few minutes of the film. Worse, the movie shows no emotion toward Francisca. Is she a tragic character, forever lost in the eyes of any sane viewer? She did lose her parents earlier in life and inexplicably morphed into a psychopath because of it. Or is she just another human, another speck of dust on the wind? I don’t know, and that just makes the movie even more boring. It doesn’t help that the movie spends absolutely no time developing Francisca’s character. Then again, Francisca herself is a blank slate. There is nothing there in that brain of hers. Worse, there seems to be nothing in her life motivating her actions. It also doesn’t help that she rarely has any expression on her face other than bored, and her acting is only slightly better. I think she showed actual emotion maybe three, four or five times in this movie, for maybe a minute each time. I get the feeling that she wasn’t supposed to be a sympathetic character to begin with, but what else are we supposed to do rather than sympathize with a character? We never get anything to go on, and are never allowed to see what makes her tick. Why is this? This does not an interesting story make. Worse, all the other characters are either mute or barely in the movie. The characters are always supposed to be the main focus of the movie, and when a movie deliberately refuses to make itself character- or even story-driven, it completely falls apart. Why would the movie even think of making such a fatal decision? I don’t know; because…”art”, I guess.

And the movie as a whole looks and feels so ungodly monotonous. Not only is there absolutely nothing driving the plot forward, but the plot goes nowhere until the last two or three minutes, and the characters never evolve. Also, I know that this is supposed to be a horror movie, but there is nothing there that is actually scary. I know that this movie’s ability to elicit fear hinged on the allegedly graphic content and how Francisca processes the events around her, but there’s nothing there. The content isn’t even graphic; whenever something violent is about to happen, the movie just cuts past the potentially interesting events that could possibly wake the audience up. It cuts to the aftermath or cleanup of these events. Come on. Why was this how the movie handled its violence? Could it not afford it? Or was this decision made to be “artistic”? This just makes the movie look spastic and lazy.

Worse, rather than give us some nice cinematography, we instead get a black and white color scheme, eliminating this movie’s potential actual usage of color, painfully static and basic camerawork that at times forgets to use a tripod, and cheap sound design.

The ending. While the rest of the movie is painfully slow, the final scenes in the movie fly by so fast, wrapping up the movie in roughly two or three minutes. It might have been even shorter. This just makes the movie feel inconsistent. The ending feels like an afterthought; a footnote. It’s almost as if the movie almost forgot that it had to end.

Did critics and audiences and I watch the same movie? This movie has been showered with praise by both critics and audiences alike, and I cannot possibly understand why. I can cut the movie a little slack, as this is director Nicolas Pesce’s directorial debut, but raising my score from 0 to .5 out of 5 is all I can give.