Directed by Jordan Peele
Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) and her family travel to a vacation town were many years before a strange incident occurred when she was a child. Weird coincidences pile up and soon she and her entire family along with the rest of the town are confronted by copies of themselves intent on taking their place.
One thing that got me about the story was that it appears that the people behind the cloning facility one day just locked the door and left. I get abandoning the place, but they left the clones with plenty of food and enough red outfits for all of them. That just doesn’t make sense. Why not kill them all or just deprive them of food so they starve?
And what was the purpose of this cloning experiment? Was it just to see if clones could be made or was it something a little more sinister? That’s never made that clear either. The result was that the copies were “tethered” to the original but what was the purpose of it all. Did they do it just because?
And was that ending with the clones holding hands some kind of indictment of Hands Across America? I thought the event was a load of pretentious crap myself at the time but nothing worth pissing over in a movie years down the road. The goal was to do something good. At first I thought they were just trying to block people from leaving the town but just before the credits roll you see a bunch of red robed people holding hands in the woods and hills outside of the town. The family however is able to drive out of town in an ambulance with no resistance so that idea went out the window. The imagery is artful but ultimately empty.
The movie has plenty of atmosphere and plenty of weirdness. That definitely helps to lift the material up. I’ve seen many horror films that go heavy on the atmosphere or heavy on the weird that I find quite entertaining. That makes them entertaining movies but not great movies. And this is an entertaining movie.
Some have suggested that this movie is a commentary on oppression in this country, but I am not sure how. The people of the town don’t even know that the Tethered exist. If they’re rising up against their oppressors, then rising up against the townspeople is incorrect because you can’t oppress something you don’t even know exists. To oppress you need to interact with those you oppress. You need to know they exist on some level and do this to them. The residents are oblivious completely to the facility. If this was a commentary on oppression then it would make more sense for them to strike against the people that actually built the facility unless they’re implying that the townspeople built it but that’s never even implied.
If this is a commentary on xenophobia and fear of the other then it missed the mark there as well because again you can’t fear something whose existence is a complete unknown. And even if the townspeople did know about these clones then they were justified in fearing them. The clones were going to kill them and take their place. That sounds like a justification for fear to me.
You could see this film in part as a commentary on the haves and the have nots. Social stratification if you will. And it would be a valid thing to say but what is the ultimate message? What was Jordan Peele trying to get across? Was he calling on the oppressed to rise up and kill their oppressors? Once he went heavy on Hands Across America, the commentary on social disparity just fell apart. Was he speaking on two different things then?
Peele has said that one of the central themes of this movie is privilege. The townspeople are the privileged and the Tethered are the ones that suffer because of their privilege. That I get but given that this comes from someone who could be viewed as privileged, it seems a bit ironic to me.
This was supposed to be a full-on horror film, but it’s actually a film with horror elements. There are no scares. There is creepiness and atmosphere but that doesn’t make it horror.
The twist ending wasn’t much of a twist ending. When I realized that the other clones were basically mute but the clone of Adelaide wasn’t, I figured out what was going on. It felt like familiar territory there. It was something right out of several comic book plots or even Michael Bay’s The Island.
This movie had a lot of hype around it. Some of it is deserved. Don’t get me wrong. It’s an okay movie but the issue is the amount of hype. It was excessive given the end product. I expected more than I actually got. The story has a nice progression, but it leaves just about every question it asks dangling. It’s not done in a way that gives you something to talk or think about. It’s done in a way that makes you ask, “What was the point of all that?”
It’s a creepy movie with some shocks (but no scares) and plenty of good performances but the ending is very confusing and comes off as almost pointless. You will like it for at least one viewing but with all the questions that the story fails to answer or point to a possible answer, you may not go back for repeat viewings.