Where do we begin with this one? Here is the good news. This is a NEW, ORIGINAL, concept. This isn’t a Marvel film, or a sequel, prequel, spin-off etc. As we go to the movies weekly you know most times, we are seeing some type of rehash. Most of them don’t live up to the originals (besides Top Gun: Maverick!) so anytime we get a new, fresh idea it’s exciting.
When you see the director’s name – Jordan Peele it may look familiar. He was a part of the duo which was Key & Peele on Comedy Central for years. To many of our surprise Peele got into directing. His first feature film, which was nominated for an Academy Award was called Get Out. It was good. Shockingly good. You had a “horror” film riddled with different themes and motifs that added layers and substance that you wouldn’t normally see. Peele’s next film US was in the horror genre as well, and was a nice follow up. This would be the 3rd film directed by him. I was intrigued to see what would unfold. The trailers for his entertainment are notorious for keeping viewers in the dark and this played true here as well. I thought MAYBE there was something to do with aliens. Maybe not? Is it a western? It’s set on a ranch…. We will see.
Onto the film.
We open in front of a studio audience where a sitcom is being filmed. We learn later this show is called “Gordy’s Home.” The premise is a chimpanzee lives with humans and many hijinks take place. However, something has went bad…. VERY BAD! Gordy (Notary) has snapped. It looks as if he has attacked the cast and we are seeing this play out in the first-person view. Who are we seeing the events as is unclear now? Sidenote here. This sub-plot comes up a few times and although I enjoyed learning more about what has happened, I don’t know how it really plays into the grand scheme of things? This is a situation where repeat viewings will be needed to understand. Not necessarily a bad thing.
We then cut to present day and the Haywood Hollywood Ranch. We met the owner Otis (David) and his son OJ (Kaluuya) as they are preparing a horse for its next shoot (the animals work on films and tv shows.) No not Gordy. Shockingly, things start to fall from the sky. We hear a rumbling and the father falls. OJ (Kaluuya) rushes his dad to the hospital. We realize he was hit in the head by a…. nickel? We then see the horse was hit with…a key? I am bewildered but the film has pulled me in. Slight spoiler (apologizes) but the father passes away. I believe this is in the synopsis so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is where our story takes off.
We me OJ (Kaluuya) again and this time his sister Emerald (Palmer) who are both attempting to run the business their father has left. The acting from this duo is excellent. I didn’t see actors on the screen I saw a brother and sister. It felt so natural to watch them unravel the mysteries ahead. Well done by both leads. Emerald is loud, brash, annoying, immature and this works. IT is all about her and she even tries to tote her own businesses while helping. OJ is more of an introvert and the level-headed of the group. They mesh well together.
The duo has a failed pitch for the next project, and you can see the ranch is dying. This is a film where if you are given anymore of the plot, it will ruin your experience. I will say this. The acting is top notch. The leads and especially the supporting cast are great. You have Ricky “Jupe” Park (The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun) who is wonderful and then a “famous” cinematographer named Antlers Holster (Wincott) who acts as a grizzled foil to everyone. Lastly, Angel Torres (Perea) is hilarious as the tech helping the siblings set up every camera known to man. What I enjoyed most besides the cast, was the cinematography. Looking back at the film, you really only go to a few locations, but it feels MASSIVE. The story has twists and turns of course and if you’re a fan of the sci-fi genre (I don’t feel it is necessarily a horror film) you’ll enjoy it. The run time was a little much though. Some scenes could have been tightened up to shave off 15 minutes or so, but it doesn’t hamper a fun experience. I plan to see it again as soon as possible and on the biggest screen as possible. Cue the twilight zone music. 4 ½ stars out of 5