Movie Review: Get Out.
Get Out is a good horror film that is not afraid to ignore the rules, and has a wicked sense of humor.
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out, has been taking critics and audiences by storm. With good reason: this film has a sharp premise, is unafraid to challenge boundaries, and blends horror with comedy and social satire expertly. I was kind of surprised that Blumhouse productions gave a first time director so much freedom, but the studio, mostly known for staple horror films such as Paranormal Activity and Ouija, has really been diversifying and adding many talented directors. They’ve already found the mark once this year with M. Knight Shyamalan’s hit, Split, and now you can count Peele’s Get Out as another certified winner.
Get Out (2017)
Chris agrees to meet his new girlfriend’s parents, but he has reservations. Chris is African American and Rose is white, and her parents don’t know that yet. When they arrive, Chris discovers that a family get together is about to begin. Everyone is at pains to make him feel welcome, but obviously don’t meet many minorities. Add to the social awkwardness, Chris sees that the only three other black people at the party are either servants or painfully old fashioned. After interacting with them, Chris begins to suspect that Rose’s family is not as cool with people of color as they profess.
Chris and Rose seem to have a good relationship, though Rose is a touch overzealous as an advocate for black folks on Chris’ behalf. Daniel Kaluuya (Sicario) and Allison Williams (Girls) turn in strong performances as Chris and Rose, and their ability to communicate subtle tension is important to the success of the film. So much of Jordan Peele’s commentary is about what is implied and half-said between those who have power and privilege and those who don’t.
The film is not afraid to step on toes, and indeed banks on creating uncomfortable interactions. Peele builds tension early by showing many of the usual social interactions that are mundane for white people but potentially devastating for minorities. A simple broken headlight and a routine traffic stop could be very unpleasant for Chris. Likewise, simply talking about sports or politics or his family history. Peele places these awkward social landmines liberally throughout the first act.
By setting up the obvious sources of tension, Peele is able to slowly alter them into a more sinister form of danger. Ignorant comments about his physique and “genetic advantages” are well known to be racial short code for stereotypes of the aggressive and brutish black male. Peele turns these and other slights into an even more cryptic form of profiling as the plot progresses.
Get Out does a fantastic job of noticing every detail. Every little bit of dialogue, every placement of recurring images, and every sound cue is used to create and enhance the tension. There aren’t any throw-away moments, and the film often brings back seemingly small details in order to twist them. Sometimes the twist turns a slight into a threat, or a threat into a joke, but you become sensitized to the fact that every little piece is important.
My favorite aspect of this film is that Jordan Peele lets you enjoy the tension by paying it off. He deftly stirs the pot, but allows you to laugh or scream at just the right moment to keep the film enjoyable. And often, when you laughing you suddenly are given reason to scream, and vice versa. The film is by no means a comedy, but it has some great moments of humor, especially from Milton “Lil Rey” Howery who plays Chris’ conspiracy prone friend that works for the TSA. I’m really glad his character was in the film, and was allowed to be both a goof and an important character.
When it comes to the action in the final act, it is big and bold and bloody. It is also a fantastic rush that cashes out all of the dread and anger you feel as Chris’ situation becomes more and more perilous. Many horror films never let you get a sense that the characters are anything more than constant victims. Get Out gives you protagonists who can experience horror without becoming stock slasher flick fodder.
Get Out…and see it!
Get Out is a great horror film. For a first stab at directing, and directing a scary film no less, Jordan Peele has nailed it. The characters are well played, and you really get to experience the events in a visceral way through Daniel Kaluuya’s performance. The film has tension, twists, blood and gore, and everything you’d want from a first rate horror film. It also is completely its own beast and a true original.