Jordan Peele has proven himself to be a new master of horror in recent years. His unique blend of social commentary, psychological thrills and bone-chilling scares has brought the genre back to peak performance. Peele, known widely for his comedy work on the sketch-comedy show “Key & Peele,” made this remarkable transition to the horror genre seemingly out of no where. He quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of horror cinema with his directorial debut, Get Out. Since then, many Black horror fans have crowned Peele their horror movie king as he insists on centering his movies on Black characters and the struggles of Black America.
Jordan Peele movies are now almost considered their own category due to his unique and intriguing way to tell horror stories. His work is masterfully done, like that of other big time Hollywood directors. However, what sets Peele apart is that his work is for Black culture.
Here are some of Jordan Peele’s most notable horror movies and TV shows ranked below, along with their Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb rankings, plus an update on the release date of his next project.
7. The Twilight Zone (2019-2020)
Jordan Peele’s involvement in The Twilight Zone marked a significant revival of the classic anthology series created by Rod Serling. In 2019, Peele became the executive producer and host of the rebooted series, bringing his unique brand of social commentary and psychological horror to the iconic show.
Peele curated and oversaw the series, ensuring that it captured the essence of the original while adding contemporary twists. He also acted as the show’s narrator, taking on the role of the mysterious and enigmatic guide through the eerie and thought-provoking tales.
Under Peele’s guidance, the new The Twilight Zone maintained its anthology format, featuring standalone episodes that explored a wide range of themes like racism, technology, identity and morality. Each episode had its own self-contained story, often with a twist ending, reminiscent of the original series.
Peele’s involvement in The Twilight Zone not only paid homage to the legacy of Rod Serling but also introduced a new generation of viewers to the series. His reputation as a talented writer and director, particularly in the horror and social commentary genres, made him a fitting choice to carry on Serling’s legacy, and his contributions helped make the revival a success.
6. Wendell & Wild (2022)
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Jordan Peele teamed up with renowned stop-motion animation film writer and director, Henry Selick to create the story for animated film, Wendell & Wild. Two of the main characters, respectively named in the title, are voice acted by Peele and his longtime sketch comedy partner, Keegan-Michael Key.
The film follows Kat Elliot, a rebellious 13-year-old that Wendell and Wild, two demon brothers, are sent to deal with. Instead, the demonic pair go on a chaotic mission to turn their schemes into reality. They do this by making a deal with Kat that will take them out of the underworld and into the Land of The Living.
One factor as to why Wendell and Wild generated so much anticipation and hype is because Selick is the director of beloved animated movies The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline. Fans of the horror genre or spooky movies for Halloween time appreciated the nostalgia Wendell & Wild brought them with it being reminiscent of these classic animated films. However, this time the story centers around a young Black girl struggling with grief while also tackling the subject of for-profit prisons.
The film is another example of Peele’s ability to tell an engaging story with thought-provoking ideas while still remaining unique within his set of projects.
5. Horror Noire: A History Of Black Horror (2019)
Jordan Peele’s involvement in Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror is a testament to his commitment to exploring and promoting diversity within the horror genre. This documentary, based on the book of the same name by Robin R. Means Coleman, examines the history of Black American representation in horror cinema and the significant impact it has had on both the genre and society.
As an executive producer, Jordan Peele lent his support and expertise to the project. His contributions helped elevate the documentary by providing insights into the experiences of Black filmmakers and actors within the horror genre. He also offered commentary on the cultural and social significance of horror films featuring Black protagonists and explored how these films challenged stereotypes and addressed issues of race.
Horror Noire is comprehensive and enlightening in its exploration of the evolution of Black representation in horror. It delves into iconic films such as Night of the Living Dead and Get Out, and features interviews with notable figures in the industry.
4. Candyman (2021):
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
While Peele did not direct Candyman, his influence as a producer is evident in the film’s themes and tone. This spiritual sequel to the 1992 classic is a chilling exploration of urban legends, gentrification and the power of storytelling.
The movie follows Anthony McCoy, an artist living in Chicago with his gallery collector girlfriend, Brianna. While exploring the Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago for inspiration for his work, Anthony meets William Burke and learns about the murder of an innocent Black man named Sherman Fields in the ‘70s. Here, William teaches Anthony about the urban legend of the Candyman.
Anthony becomes obsessed with the story of the Candyman and quickly the urban legend begins to take over not only his art but his life. The true story of how the Candyman came to be and continues to follow each generation unravels after a string of people surrounding Anthony die by the hooked hand of the Candyman.
Peele’s influence is evident in Candyman through the commentary in the movie. The storytelling is not shy on highlighting issues Black men are disproportionately affected by in America like police brutality and the often fatal consequences of being wrongly accused of a crime. Despite heavily being influenced by social commentary, the movie is still worthy of its horror genre as it is packed with gore and jumpscares.
3. Nope (2022)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Jordan Peele brought his growing fanbase the third addition to his horror movie repertoire with Nope (2022). Peele delivers another social commentary on issues related to BIPOC folks in America, this time focusing on the movie business in Hollywood with an added layer of Sci-Fi.
The film is centered around the Haywoods; Otis “OJ” Haywood Jr., played by Daniel Kaluuya in his second lead role under Peele’s direction, and Emerald Haywood, played by Keke Palmer. The Haywoods are horse wranglers on a ranch in California where they work on Hollywood productions training and handling horses. A “bad miracle” happens upon the two when they discover a UFO is flying above and terrorizing their ranch.
OJ and Emerald attempt to film the UFO while Jupe, a theme park operator OJ sells the horses to, tries to profit off of the mysterious entity. When both of these plans do not go as intended, OJ and Emerald team up with an appliance store salesman named Angel to learn more about what is tormenting their ranch and how to capture the “impossible shot.”
Nope is a commentary on the exploitation of those who are BIPOC in the entertainment industry. Its motif surrounding taming animals provides the symbolism that makes the film so horrifying yet thought-provoking. Kaluuya is praised again for his performance, as well as Palmer for her ability to bring humor through her character while also displaying complex emotions.
While the film is seemingly the first to not be universally loved by Peele’s fans, Nope is still widely successful and has generated mostly positive reviews. Critics and audiences alike appreciate Peele’s venture into a new genre of horror and his ability to create a unique and captivating story with an underlying message.
2. Us (2019):
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Peele’s second directorial effort, Us, delves into the horrors of identity, duality and societal divisions. The film is Peele’s second film to spotlight the struggles of Black Americans while being centered around a Black family. The eerie atmosphere and unsettling performances in “Us” left audiences with lingering unease.
The film centers on the Wilson family – Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) and their two children, Zora and Jason. They embark on a vacation to Santa Cruz, California, where Adelaide has unsettling memories from her childhood.
Their peaceful vacation takes a horrifying turn when a family of doppelgängers, who are evil and twisted versions of the Wilsons, appear in red jumpsuits and wielding scissors. These doppelgängers, known as “The Tethered,” launch a violent and terrifying attack on the Wilsons, leading to a nightmarish battle for survival.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that “The Tethered” represent a dark and hidden aspect of humanity. Adelaide must confront her own past and the sinister connection between herself and her doppelgänger, Red, as she fights to protect her family.
Us is a suspenseful and thought-provoking horror film that delves into themes of duality, the consequences of societal inequality, and the primal fear of confronting one’s own dark side. The movie features outstanding performances by the cast, particularly Lupita Nyong’o in a dual role.
Much like Get Out, Us received critical acclaim and sparked numerous discussions about its allegorical elements, making it a notable addition to the horror genre and solidifying Jordan Peele’s status as a visionary filmmaker.
1. Get Out (2017):
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
The movie that started it all. Get Out marked Jordan Peele’s directorial debut in the horror genre and was an instant sensation. The film combines elements of racial tension, social commentary and psychological horror to create a thought-provoking and terrifying experience.
The movie revolves around the character of Chris Washington, played by Daniel Kaluuya. Chris is a talented, Black photographer, who is in a relationship with Rose Armitage (played by Allison Williams). When Rose invites Chris to meet her family at their secluded countryside estate, Chris begins to notice unsettling behavior from the household’s staff, who are all Black but seem strangely detached.
Chris becomes increasingly uncomfortable as he interacts with Rose’s family and their friends, who all appear overly fascinated with his ethnicity. He soon discovers that the Armitages have a dark secret – they’ve developed a sinister method of transplanting the consciousness of older, white individuals into the bodies of younger, healthy Black people. Chris becomes a victim of this horrifying scheme, leading to a suspenseful and terrifying battle for his freedom.
As the film unfolds, Get Out masterfully blends horror elements with social commentary, highlighting the insidious nature of racism and exploitation. It marked Jordan Peele’s successful transition from comedy to horror and solidified his reputation as a groundbreaking filmmaker in the genre.
Get Out also marked a shift in the horror movie genre with many Black Americans now feeling represented in the space where it’s common to see Black characters simply die first. From the “Get Out Challenge” where people recorded themselves running in a straight line then making a sharp turn similar to a character in the movie, to repeated use of the quote from the movie “I would have voted for Obama a third time,” the impact from Get Out is undeniable.
Jordan Peele continues to be a prominent figure in the horror genre, and fans eagerly await his future projects. As for upcoming projects, there may be no specific details available at the moment. Rumors suggest a new film could be expected to premiere on Christmas 2024. However, what is known is that his track record suggests that whatever he creates next will be worth watching.