HUMMEL Review: Karen (2021)

I have a lot of friends, on the right, who genuinely despise Jordan Peele’s Get Out. I get the emotional gut reaction to the movie. It’s the most politically charged blockbuster of our generation. I just think it’s worth remembering that Peele is a genuinely talented director. He’s funny, and humanistic and seems to actually like people for all their flaws, even when he’s feeding them through horror movie woodchippers.

There’s a reason his movie feels like silk when compared to something like Karen.

Karen went pretty viral earlier this year after the trailer caught a lot of attention. The scenarios felt as cynical and exploitative as any film in recent memory: two middle class black people move to a white neighborhood and their neighbor, a woman named Karen, starts harassing them and stalking them because she doesn’t like black people.

The whole scenario would feel trite and tiresome if it didn’t feel cheap. Karen is one of the worst looking movies I’ve seen in years (and that’s including straight to Redbox films, Christian movies, and Shudder exclusives). The whole film stinks of being crapped out by a second rate studio and creators who don’t know what they’re doing but wanted to do it quickly.

They want their own Get Out but they don’t want to put the effort into writing a movie that can capture ANY aspect of humanity and racial tension AT ALL honestly. As a result, the film is more like a very late sequel to a horror franchise that needed to die 20 years ago.

Get Out 8: The Next One’s in Space

The story nominally follows a woman named Karen who lives in an upper class white neighborhood in the outskirts of Atlanta. When two black neighbors move in, she immediately starts melting down because she has an irrational hatred of black people because of experiences in her past. Immediately, she tries to micromanage and harass them before trying to stick the home owner’s association on them in the hopes that she can kick this innocent black family out.

The whole film just stinks of manipulation. Dialog casually drops lines about how Confederate names need to be taken down from neighborhoods, how great it is to be a woke black man, how “All Lives Matter” is racist, and how white women secretly lust after black men. At one point the film alludes to the evilness of Karen by discovering that she has a confederate flag dish soap dispenser in her bathroom. Later on, she interrupts a housewarming party by telling a group of BLM supporters to go back to Africa.

There’s no subtly. The satire is entirely surface level. The only potentially novel idea at play is the revelation of why she’s racist which is never explored as an idea. It’s just an excuse to make Karen as unflattering and unsympathetic as possible.

Whatever insight the film MIGHT have about the nature of American race relationships is lost in the execution. All that’s left is a film filled with unbelievable characters, violent sociopaths and dog whistles to progressive watchers.

Honestly, if this movie is trying to be an absurdity comedy it almost works. The movie is SOOOO over the top that every line delivered seriously comes off as unintentionally hilarious. The scenes only seem to be capable of eliciting cringeworthy reactions and at one point I was laughing at how awkward the film was.

That’s really the only saving grace to Karen. It made me laugh, at it.

For all its ideological excesses, at least Get Out made all of its characters humans. At least there is some level of normalcy to that universe where the realization of white cultural appropriation is given context and thematic implications. At least the microaggressions in that film felt like things actual WASPy progressives might say…

I don’t care if you’re a color blind conservative or a woke leftist, but the message of Karen is secondary to the fact that it’s an embarrassing work of filmmaking. It’s as ugly and sanctimonious as something like God’s Not Dead and only seems to be marketing itself on its topicality. Absent that, this film is completely empty.

Note: At the time of writing, somebody just went and uploaded the entire film for free on YouTube, if you can, try and watch it for free!

Published by Tyler Hummel

Editor-in-Chief at Cultural Review, Regular Film Critic for Geeks Under Grace, Published at ArcDigital, Rebeller, The DailyWire, Hollywood in Toto, Legal Insurrection and The ED Blog, Host of The AntiSocial Network Podcast

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