Get Out is one of those rare mainstream films that defies definition. It’s part horror/thriller with some scares and genuinely unnerving moments. The next scene could then shift to feature some very funny tension-relieving comedy. And that’s followed up with some pointed, unapologetic social commentary on race relations.
However you choose to define it, Get Out is a wholly engaging, entertaining and particularly relevant film. Jordan Peele’s (Keanu) directorial debut easily could have buckled for trying to mash too many genres into one film. But Peele, who also wrote the film, never loses focus of his vision and the result is a thought-provoking thriller with a surprising amount of humor.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario) is apprehensive about a big day in most guy’s life — meeting his girlfriend’s family. Even more so since his hardly ‘woke’ girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), has neglected to mention to her parents that he’s black.
Rose’s family seems perfectly normal, if perhaps a bit too overeager. Rose’s father, Dean (Bradley Whitford), is the wannabe hip socially aware patriarch. Her brother, Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones, X-Men: First Class), is enjoying his privileged lifestyle and is a little less PC. It’s only with Rose’s mother, Missy (Catherine Keener), that Chris gets a bad vibe.
And there’s the uncomfortable awkwardness that the family maid (Betty Gabriel) and groundskeeper (Marcus Henderson) are black. Soon Chris starts to discover he wasn’t worried enough and this quaint getaway ends in nightmarish fashion.
Get Out is good with frequent moments of brilliance. Peele takes too long for the build-up as if the audience already knows the payoff. Kaluuya makes for an easygoing lead and one that doesn’t act like the typical horror movie protagonist. Chris doesn’t suddenly become an idiot to drive the story along. Williams is the other key performer and she has the most challenging role of all the performers.
Peele smoothly uses subtle humor during casual racism exchanges and then goes for outright humor with Chris’ best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery, The Carmichael Show). Howery excels in these moments, but Peele wisely doesn’t veer too far into silly comedy. He has a deeper message about culture assimilation and how others view race.
Peele doesn’t go for a lot of shocking twists and gimmicky camera angles. He trusts the story is terrifying enough to generate authentic scares and an overall uneasy atmosphere. It’s incredible that a film with such an incendiary premise got made. Get Out is as untraditional a film you’ll see this year with an ingenious way to open a dialogue on race relations.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/Universal Pictures