While walking to an event after a TIFF screening, I heard some young men in the middle of the pedestrian intersection say “Hey my Ni*%a…what’s up?” to their peers and constituents coming toward them. Totally expecting to see a group of young men of color, what I witnessed was a group of young white boys. Words can not express the confusion I felt in that moment. When did that become part of pop culture vernacular? What was interesting is that there was one person of color in the group who said nothing. He didn’t object, looked enormously uncomfortable.
I found myself asking was he uncomfortable being the only one POC in the group or uncomfortable at the N-word being casually popped off ? For Jason Mitchell as Tyrel, he discovers exactly what this feels like to be the only one. Does he revel in being the “only one” or does he want to run as fast as he can?
Tyrel embarks on a trip with friends to the Catskill mountains to take a moment to hang out and blow off steam. He has no idea that the environment he’s stepping into ultimately makes him fear for his life and realizes with the help of a stranger (Emmy winners Ann Down and the late Reg E. Cathey ) to never trust a white man “they will let you die in the wilderness.”
Written and directed by Sebastian Silva, there are many elements of the film that feel like Jordan Peele’s hit thriller “Get Out.” Tyrel is a strange, uncomfortable, but poignantly accurate portrayal of subtle racism in America. The type of racists that make you think they are cool, but when folks starting burning portraits of Jesus, getting ridiculously drunk, playing games with a piñata of POTUS and calling women of color ‘black hoes” – you know it’s time to bounce. Produced by Magnolia Pictures TYREL was released nationwide on December 14th.