Movie Review by Joan Ellis –
Do go to US if you want to watch good actors deliver a genuine horror movie. Do not go if you have a weak heart. I must add that I watched it alone in an empty theater and thought several times that I might not make it. That’s because a strong cast sets out to terrify us and succeeds.
In 1986, an ordinary family sets off on a Santa Cruz beach vacation. We meet Adelaide, a reluctant Mom (Lupita Nyong’o) and Gabe (Winston Duke), a determined Dad. When we see four odd people holding hands across the driveway, we tense a bit and when that doesn’t scare the beach going family, we know the horror – or the fun, depending how you look at it – has begun.
Our sympathy goes quickly to the reluctant wife as her family – now in the beach house – is invaded by another family armed with knives. No need to spoil things for you with the grim details, just to say that if you want a horror show, you’ve got one here. I don’t even risk overstatement by saying you’ll have two hours of shock and terror.
A personal question: Why have I always been, and still am, scared of amusement parks? A dim feeling of danger and the sweat of fear would creep, uninvited, during the few times I went as a kid or as an adult. What is it about amusement parks that is so unsettling? The danger of a roller coaster? The dark of a narrow tunnel going certainly to even more danger?
If you have any of those feelings you will be as scared as I was. The good news is that if you are a lover of horror shows, you will be rewarded with great pleasure because good actors deliver the requisite suspense. The best – or worst – part of all this is the periodic unleashing of loud, piercing, unexpected shocks that come with no hints of the impending doom.
The actors – both adults and children – wrap their characters in imaginative cloaks of good and evil and that is the engine of the story. Who is good and who is bad? Because they are accomplished, they are able to level us with fear.
It’s not irrelevant to ask what in the wildest of all dreams led writer/director Jordan Peele to want to create this stew of horror. In talking with people who have seen it, people who love horror love this film. Those who don’t – like me – wonder about the why of it all. Isn’t life complicated enough without stewing in family horror?
As I prowl through movie lovers who have seen it, I was amazed to hear all kinds of views, rooted in intelligence, that never once occurred to me. That could be because I had my hands over my ears much of the time. If you decide to risk it, one word of advice: do not, as I did, go alone.