Tag Archives: horror movie review

Get Out Review

Get Out Review - photo property of Blumhouse Productions & QC Entertainment

Get Out Review – photo property of Blumhouse Productions & QC Entertainment

At one point in Get Out, the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, one half of the sketch comedy duo Key and Peele, the main character proclaims, “it’s not what they said, it’s how they say it”. In a world where racism has been pushed to the surface and groups like Black Lives Matter are making headlines, it’s one of the film’s strongest statements. This is my review of Get Out, one of the best films of 2017, and one of the most socially relevant horror films to be released in a long time.

Daniel Kaluuya (Sicario) plays Chris, an African American photographer who is heading out of the city for a weekend with his white girlfriend, Rose played by Girls Allison Williams. Chris is meeting Rose’s parents for the first time “Do they know I’m black?” he asks her. “Should they?” she responds, and then laughs it off, reassuring him that they are definitely, not racists. On the surface, Get Out is a well constructed horror film. Below the surface, it’s delving into the underlying race issues that we as a society believe to have overcome.

The film starts off on an uneasy note when Chris and Rose hit a deer and the police officer called to the scene asks Chris for his ID, even though Alison was driving. The typical way a scene like this would play out in a horror film would be a small town cop arriving on scene and acting creepy, a premonition of things to come. In Get Out Rose smoothly handles the situation, coming to an unspoken understanding with the cop implying that he is only asking for Chris’ ID because he is black. The couple continues on and we shrug off the cop incident as well, but this is an example of why Get Out is genius. By Ruth, the white person neutralizing the situation, it no longer feels like a threat, even though it is just as big a warning sign as the creepy red neck cop trope. By normalizing this situation, we’re ignoring the problem, and as a result Rose and Chris, and our society at large, will suffer the consequences.

Rose’s parents welcome Chris with open arms but something feels off, and the film does a good job of slowing building this sense of unease with the audience.   There is the awkward family dinner with Rose’s brother when he tries to play fight with Chris. The fact that the housekeeper and groundskeeper are black, yet treat Chris with a strange air of coldness. But the tensions really increase when Rose’s parents throw a big garden party. Chris can’t quite pinpoint his unease, and at first he is a good sport meeting all of the parent’s older white friends. He smiles politely through their well intentioned but inappropriate attempts at conversation. We get the impression that he’s used to this, and has been in this situation many times before. We sympathize with Chris and get a taste of what it feels like to be navigating through a dominant white society through the eyes of a black man.

By the time he figures out the truth, it’s too late. One could say that it’s a bit of an analogy for the last US Election. We kept patting ourselves on the back thinking that we had progressed as a society. When Donald Trump won we were shocked, and all the hate lying dormant for years was allowed back into the light. It’s the main theory behind horror films– whatever we repress as a society, comes back as the monster. The truth behind what’s really going on in Roses’ family is truly monstrous and horrific. When Chris’ friend Rod played by Lil Rel Howery, who steals every scene, goes to the police station with a theory about his missing friend, the group of ethnic cops laugh in his face. It’s a funny scene and one of the reasons why this film works so well – Peele makes us think even when we’re laughing. I’m sure we would have laughed too if someone had told us a few years ago who would be running the White House.

Get Out Review

Get Out Review

There are many layers to Get Out, and I look forward to watching it again. This film struck the perfect balance of pleasure and horror, executing its themes with a smart script, great pacing and just the right amount of gore and wit. All the performances were spot on, and I really enjoyed watching Catherine Keener in a role so unlike any other we’ve seen her play. Daniel Kaluuya is excellent as well, struggling to keep his cool as a good boyfriend even though he knows something is amiss, all the while working through his own inner demons. It’s also refreshing to see a male as the main victim of a horror film instead of your typical Final Girl. There’s something to be said when the outcast, virgin Final Girl is replaced with an African American man.

A suburban horror film mixed with mad scientist influences Get Out is like Stepford Wives crossed with Invasion of the Body Snatchers with some Re-Animator thrown in. The film forces us to examine the real monsters in our modern society, and the dangers of normalizing or ignoring unresolved racial tensions.

Written and directed by: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams and Catherine Keener
Released: 2017

What did you think of Get Out?  Let me know your thoughts on my review!

Baskin Film Review

"Baskin" Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

“Baskin” Property of Film Colony, Mo Film, XYZ Films

I saw the Turkish horror film “Baskin” a few months ago at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, but after traveling to Turkey I feel as though I understand the political context behind the film a bit better.

Baskin is a horror film by first time filmmaker Can Evrenol and is based on his 2013 short film by the same name.  The film is a surreal nightmare of hellish images in a gritty, bloody landscape and is a real treat for any one who is a fan of Hellraiser, HP Lovecraft and Nightmare on Elm Street – so, that would definitely be me!

The plot centers around a group of police officers at a restaurant who receive a distress call from a small town with a strange reputation.  Their van gets into an accident when an officer has a vision of a bloody figure and drives the van into a ditch.  Stranded, the officers continue on to the town where they come across an abandoned warehouse.  What they discover is a labyrinth of unthinkable horrors, and each of them is subjected to various nightmarish scenarios.  They soon realize they are trapped in Hell, and this version of Hell is run by a cannibalistic cult led by a super creepy, bald leader named The Father.

The film cuts back and forth between the police officers at the restaurant to the terror they now face, blurring the lines between reality as we are never quite sure which bizarre world is real.  While the story line isn’t the strongest, one can fully appreciate the film as an art house horror, with Dario Argento being an obvious influence.  The art direction and FX are pretty impressive for an independent film, with extensive torture set pieces and bloody gore dripping from every corner of the warehouse.  The cinematography is also reminiscent of Italian horror, highly stylized with sharp contrasts and rich blacks and reds.

The star of the show though is Mehmet Cerrahoglu who plays The Father.  During the Q&A at TIFF, we learned that this was the first time Mehmet had acted, and needless to say he’s found his calling.  His unique look and way of speaking makes him so engaging as the leader of the cult, and despite his short height, his presence is commanding and he steals every scene.

The political connotations behind the main characters make this film unique as well.  Subjecting the cops to such torture can for sure be seen as a commentary on the long history of police brutality in Turkey.  The police forces in Turkey have often been criticized for their excessive use of physical force, tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons on peaceful protestors.  The public response culminated to a police brutality protest in 2013, which was when the short was released.

“Baskin” isn’t out to scare you, the film just wants to give you a little taste of hell.  The visuals are so grotesquely beautiful though that you won’t want to look away, until it’s too late.

Did you see Baskin?  Let me know what you think!

Directed by Can Evrenol
Released: 2015
Starring: Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Gorkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu

West Coast Screams & Healthy Apple Dreams

Freddy Krueger's glove, Edward Scissorhands, Jason's mask and machete, Jack Torrance's axe from The Shining and Mr. Pointy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Experience Music Project museum

Freddy Krueger’s glove, Edward Scissorhands, Jason’s mask and machete, Jack Torrance’s axe from The Shining and Mr. Pointy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Experience Music Project museum

When I visited Seattle, I fell in love with the Experience Music Project Museum.  Not only did the museum have some excellent permanent collections featuring Nirvana & Jimi Hendrix, but there was also an impressive horror exhibit: “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film”.  One of the items displayed was Freddy Krueger’s glove from one of my favourite horror films, the classic slasher Nightmare on Elm Street directed by Wes Craven.  This movie made a significant impact on the horror genre, and inspired a slew of slashers produced throughout the 80’s.  A little over a decade later, Wes Craven’s Scream revitalized horror films, breathing new life into the genre he helped to create.  Scream spawned three sequels, the fourth one released many years later in 2011.  Despite the forgettable Scream 3, I was actually pretty excited for Scream 4 and my review can be read here.

Scream 4

Property of Dimension Films

In honour of the Scream series that was set in California, I’m featuring a recipe that highlights some of California’s most popular food trends: detox, wheat free and sugar free.  My spiced apple crisp puts a healthy spin on this classic dessert, making it the perfect dish to snack on during a detox.

Wheat Free, Sugar Free Spiced Apple Crisp

Wheat Free, Sugar Free Spiced Apple Crisp