Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Imagine going to visit your spouse’s family only to found out that you are potential property to be sold to others. Similar to the slave trades in the 1800s, the film recreates these acts to intensify the plot as Chris Washington, Daniel Kaluuya, visits his girlfriend’s family for the weekend.
In the film, Chris happens to visit on the same weekend his girlfriend Rose, Allison Williams, parents are having visitors over. However, they’re not just any visitors as the people who arrived, all of which were white, started to analyze Washington by testing his intelligence, his body and admired how cool he was. Like the trade, slave owners would analyze the slaves by checking their body and were most likely to be purchased if they were younger. This was poked at when he was noted as being 26-years-old. Slaves were then sold to the highest bidder. Rose’s father Dean, Bradley Whitford, was leading the bid with a picture of Chris on display with the guest placing their bid using bingo cards.
We are introduced to other enslaved African Americans including the housekeeper Georgina, Betty Gabriel, and the landscaper Walter, Marcus Henderson. They seem like normal obedient workers until Chris begins to have conversations with them in which Georgina begins to tear during their encounter, and Walter running away as fast as he can. They were under hypnosis thanks to Rose’s Mother Missy, Catherine Keener, who tries to trap Washington under the same spell in an effort to get him to quit smoking.
While talking to his bidder Chris asked why did the family targeted black people? Only to receive the answer that they wanted someone strong and share a common interest. What makes the film even more interesting is that with this kind of plot it was released during Black History Month. In a way, it brought this part of history to modern audiences to show how black people lost their own individuality during these trades and separated from their family and friends to serve their owners.
The film itself is a suspenseful thriller that is well written and features some funny moments to make light of intense scenes. Beginning to end all the elements of the film, including the brief history lesson, makes this movie a good time.
3 ½ Stars
Runtime: 1 hr 43 min