He is understandably tense and asks: “Do they know I’m black?” She assures him her parents are not racist as they even voted for Obama as president. But this is not the kind of “Meet the Parents” or “Why Him?” kind of comedy. Missy is a psychiatrist and even offers to hypnotize Chris to help him quit smoking.
Chris rejects the idea but Missy is somehow able to manipulate him to sit down and reveal his guilt feelings over the death of his mom in a hit and run incident when he was a little boy. Missy tells him to sink into the floor and it’s like he’s falling into a void which Missy says is “the sunken place”. He then wakes up thinking it’s all a dream, but then, he eventually realizes that he has indeed stopped smoking.
There’s a party in the home of Rose’s parents and Chris gets to meet some of the white guests. He’s treated like the guest of honor, without him knowing he’s actually the guest of horror. He meets a lone black guest who behaves strangely and, at one point, suffers from nosebleed and suddenly yells to him: “Get out!”
Chris is unsettled by this and Rose takes him out for a walk. While they are gone, a mysterious kind of auction is shown being held for Chris and the winner is a blind art dealer who is familiar with Chris’ works as a photographer.
Now, as a viewer, you start to seriously wonder: what are these people really up to? As the film heads to its climax, you know that there will be a lot of violence as Chris is being subjected to something really diabolical.
You might not exactly buy into the idea of a neurosurgeon who transplants the brains and consciousness of old and weak white people into the bodies of younger black ones, but there’s no doubt the film succeeds in creating enough tension and suspense in pursuing its premise as things gets curiouser and stranger for Chris.
The film offers something quite fresh in its treatment, although the way it’s structured (with the lead character slowly discovering the deadly secrets of the people around him) is something we’ve seen before in other suspense-thrillers like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Stepford Wives”, but this time, with a racial factor and somewhat satirical edge. Imagine meeting your girlfriend’s folks and discovering that this can threaten your very own life.
The film’s opening scene sets the tone and atmosphere quite succinctly. A young black guy is seen walking down a dark and empty street when a car passes him by, makes a U turn then follows him. He's abducted and much later, we’ll meet this guy again, totally different in behavior compared to what he was in the opening scene and explaining the insanity of the film’s final act.
Whitford and Keener give a dangerous and sharp edge to their friendliness as the enigmatic parents from hell who harbor a deep dark secret. Williams also does well as the gracious, supportive girlfriend who turns out to be actually a sinister schemer with other victims.
Kaluuya’s advantage is in his having a pair of big round and very expressive eyes. He early on conveys the quietness of his character when a nosey cop asks for his I.D. and Rose defends him aggressively against the cop’s intrusiveness. In the film’s final stretch when he tries to escape, you get to totally side with him as the protagonist, no matter what his race or creed is.