2017, R, 105 mins.
Daniel Kaluuya as Chris / Allison Williams as Rose / Catherine Keener as Missy / Bradley Whitford as Dean / Keith Stanfield as Andre Hayworth / Marcus Henderson as Walter
Written and directed by Jordan Peele
A friend of mine asked me the other day to describe GET OUT, to which I very specifically replied that it's like GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER morphed with a nightmarish episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE further merged with THE STEPFORD WIVES.
unforgettably weird horror/thriller/comedy from writer/director Jordan
Peele, the same man that's fifty per cent of the Comedy Central dynamic
duo Key & Peele, whom both previously starred in last year's very
Marking his directorial debut, Peele is certainly going out to
prove himself as a bona fide filmmaking talent right out of the gate
that's unafraid of a genre mishmash challenge, and GET OUT most assuredly
reinforces that. It's
satirically on point, horrifyingly intense, darkly amusing, and manages to have
a considerable amount to say about race relations in America.
impressively and ambitiously tall order for any novice filmmaker.
GET OUT contains
an initial setup that's as simple, yet effective as they come.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is a young black man that's been dating his
white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) for quite some time, and even
though they're comfortably in love with one another she has never taken him
home to meet her parents. They decide to venture out of the city and make the
pilgrimage to her family home, which is located in a very secluded
area that's altogether separated from the rest of the world (when have
journeys out to dwellings in the middle of nowhere ever been a good idea
in any horror film?). Allison
has demonstrated herself to be a very progressive minded person in Chris'
eyes, but he's nevertheless concerned about revealing himself as a African
American to what he thinks will be conservative white elitists.
She reassures him and calms his concerns by
informing him that her mom and dad would have voted for Obama a third time
if they could.
seem reassuringly okay when Chris and Allison make it to her childhood
home and are both greeted with warm and welcoming arms by her parents Dean
(Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener).
The first few hours have their share of semi-awkward conversations,
but Chris seems mostly convinced that Dean and Missy are noble and considerate
people...and then things begin to
go south for Chris. He can't help but notice that Dean has a few black
servants at his disposal...and they all seem like they're in some kind of
zombiefied trance of hyper congeniality.
They almost seem...programmed into docility.
Chris' weekend takes a bizarre turn for the worse when Missy
offers to hypnotize him in order to help combat his smoking addiction,
which Chris politely declines. Yet,
Missy's powerfully persuasive hypnosis techniques get the better of
Chris...and this is just the beginning of a horrific series of
traumatizing events that elevates his paranoia concerning Allison's parents with
each new waking minute he's there.
It would be
incredibly foolish for me to dive deeper in this review of GET OUT's
overall story trajectory, seeing as that would be engaging in obvious
spoilers and ruin the experience of seeing it.
What I can say is that - as far as horror comedies go - Peele takes
great subversive delight in crafting a film that taps into race, race
relations, and racial tensions and how those tensions manifest and grow
into deep seeded suspicions. GET
OUT is sobering and thoughtful as a social commentary piece when it's not
a methodically jarring thriller that creates an undulating sensation of
dread and unease in viewers. Even
though Peele is trying to tap into Chris' increasingly disturbed psyche as
the story progresses and is ultimately about how he feels that his life
eventually becomes in absolute peril the longer he spends at his
girldfriend's parent's home, GET OUT deals with the universal themes of
people feeling uncomfortable in an foreign environment and one in which
you feel unwanted or desired. Part
of the ingenious approach of this film is that it doesn't lay its cards
out on the table too quickly about Dean and Missy: Are they really
despicably evil people that want to perpetrate harm on Chris or are they
an affable couple that's wrongfully misunderstood by him?
In many respects,
GET OUT is a patient film that requires and respects the patience in
viewers. It also wags a
middle finger at obligatory horror film troupes (during its first two
thirds, at least) by paying subtle and sarcastic homage to them without overtly feeling
reliant on them. Peele wisely
understands the delicate balancing act his film is engaging in as both a
piece of scandalously hysterical satire and a disturbingly grotesque horror
flick. I appreciated the fact
that GET OUT is not concerned with blood, gore, violence, and body counts
as so many other genre efforts are; it's actually trying to say something
about how people relate to and act around each other...and often not for
the better. When the film is
not be knee-slappingly funny it's nerve-wracking and nail bitingly
suspenseful. Peele gets
tremendous mileage out of Chris' potentially volatile predicament: Is he
completely overreacting and engaging in reverse racism by perceiving Dean
and Missy as bigoted and dangerous people to black people or is he right
to judge them with anxiety plagued apprehension?
The film is
substantially better acted than perhaps it has any business of being.
Daniel Kaluuya has a very tricky role in the sense that he has to
be an audience surrogate in terms of relaying the madness that's happening
around him that could be tangible or just a figment of an overactive
imagination; he's the strong emotional anchor that keeps everything
dramatically afloat here. Whitford
and Kenner have perhaps the toughest and most thankless acting challenges
in GET OUT, seeing as they have to initially present their respective
characters as kind and considerate parents that also happen to have an
ethereal aura of menace about them. Their
stellar performances never over telegraphs their true intentions right
from the beginning of the film, which allows audience members to become
more fully immersed in what's to come next with each new scene.
disappointingly implodes in its final twenty minutes or so, which somewhat
undoes its extraordinarily well oiled and executed opening two acts.
The problems with its climax are twofold: Firstly, for as
much as Peele is trying to shake up modern horror film conventions
throughout GET OUT, he seems to really adhere to them in the
third act. Secondly, the
would-be shocking revelations regarding Allison's parents are not
altogether as shocking as this film thinks it is.
That, and the narrative devolves into some ultra bizarre detours
that makes GET OUT feel more like sensationalistic B-grade science fiction
than a hard boiled and gritty psychological thriller.
I can't fault Peele for amping up the bloodshed during the film's
final moments, seeing as he displays atypical tact in avoiding violence
throughout. Yet, I feel like
he wrote his film into a corner and felt obliged to offer up a grandiose
and sinister finale that would further get people talking afterwards.
The build up of GET OUT is superb, but its payoff seems to be
cheaply going for raw shock value.
Still, Peele triumphantly emerges here as a highly adept, risk-taking, and fiendishly clever filmmaker with a bright future ahead of him. He not only demonstrates a strong technical eye for detail, but he also impeccably knows how to get just the right performances out of his actors. And as a screenwriter, Peele is trying to lace his film with contemplative ideas that make GET OUT rise well above of the monotonous torture porn horror thrillers that brainlessly inundate viewers with numbing carnage. The scariest thing in GET OUT is the uneasy sensation of uncertainty that plagues its main African American character as he tries to process his escalating distrust of every white person he comes in contact with.
If anything, that alone elevates the film to reality based horror.