Universal Pictures and Blumhouse (producers of The Visit, Insidious series, and The Gift) have either created a brilliant marketing strategy or an early death to two movies the two are partnering together on: Get Out and Split.
In our current "Black Lives Matter" culture, it is interesting to note that this is the time that Jordan Peele, half of the comedy duo, Key and Peele, has decided to pen, direct, and release his new suspense horror thriller, Get Out.
Universal describes Get Out as a "speculative thriller…from the mind of Jordan Peele." The story is about Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) an African-America man who travels with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her parents at the family estate for a weekend getaway. The realization that their daughter is dating a black man is a bit of a shock for Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford) but the two go out of their way to make Chris feel comfortable, at least at first. The longer that the couple stay at the estate, the stranger things become and eventually lead to "disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined."
Get Out is said to "equal parts gripping thriller and provocative commentary" about racial tension and is an unusual choice for a variety of reasons. Shanna Collins of Vibe says that "Black directors are usually discouraged from creating horror films, as opposed to romances or comedies, despite horror pictures being less expensive to make. Horror films, typically thought to be exclusive territory for white directors and audiences, are able to illuminate political and social stigmas that people are afraid to confront," but that might be what drew Peele to the movie project in the first place.
"It is one of the very, very few horror movies that does jump off of racial fears. That to me is a world that hasn't been explored. Specifically, the fears of being a black man today. The fears of being any person who feels like they're a stranger in any environment that is foreign to them. It deals with a protagonist that I don't see in horror movies."Then there is Split, a new M. Night Shyamalan film that stars James McAvoy as a character with 24 different personalities and he intends to share them all on the screen. Shyamalan, the writer, director, and producer of Split "delves into the mysterious recesses of one man's fractured, gifted mind." In the movie, Kevin (McAvoy) meets regularly with his psychiatrist Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) who is aware of 23 of his split personalities, but hasn't yet met the 24th which decides to rise above the others when Kevin kidnaps three teenage girls (Anya Taylor-Joy, Jessica Sula, and Haley Lu Richardson).
Universal is banking that the thriller movie will have a twist that is positively received similar to Shyamalan's other films like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. Split is also a partnership between Jason Blum who worked with Shyamalan on last year's horror movie, The Visit, which was about a pair of grandparents who were more odd than they seemed to be at first blush.
But Split is meeting with some tough resistance in form of a petition calling for a boycott against the film. The Care2 petition claims that the movie is "transphobic and offers a harmful narrative surrounding mental illness" reports MovieWeb. The film shows Kevin wearing a dress and high heels at one point in the trailer which has angered Sarah Rose, the petition author who has not seen the movie.
"There are a lot of things that are inherently problematic about the upcoming Shyamalan film. We're at a point in society where male-bodied people wearing dresses shouldn't be portrayed as offensive, strange, or scary, but films like this do nothing to counteract that narrative. Additionally, this film paints mental illness as a horror movie plot, and not a real issue that should be addressed seriously and with profound compassion."
Rose has stated that she is calling for the boycott of the movie because she identifies as transgender and mental illness has impacted her life. However, the movie did screen well at Fantastic Fest this year and unless the petition sees lot more traction, we should expect Split to come to theaters sometime next January. Get Out has a firm date of February 24.
[Featured Image by Universal Pictures]