Film Review: 'Get Out'
Nobody knew that Jordan Peele, one-half of the comedy duo Key and Peele, was capable of putting out a thriller film.
Even more so: nobody knew that it would be this good.
Our first big horror hit of 2017 is Jordan Peele's directorial debut in Get Out , a dark thriller that's unlike anything we've seen in quite some time, horror or otherwise. It's not just for the fact that it sets its brooding and ominous tone exceptionally well, or just that the writing is top-notch, or that the direction is so impressive for Peele's first-ever time in the director's chair. In an exceptional manner, it's pointedly funny and deeply undercutting in a way that's especially timely and aware of itself; it's a movie that only could have been made today.
It makes things its most accessible by being a simple story of a young couple, in love for five months, that takes the next step in their relationship by visiting the parents' house of the lady, Rose (Allison Williams). But there's one defining feature: this is a mixed-race couple, and our protagonist, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is black. So here's one black guy meeting the all-white family, and who knows what could happen - especially given that Rose hasn't told her parents he's black.
Fast forward to the parents' lush, picturesque home in the middle of the woods. Things turn out the way you might expect, but with Peele behind the script, all the little micro-aggressions have their hilarity magnified. For example, Mr. Armitage (Bradley Whitford) totally would have voted for a third-term Obama. Making things even more awkward, the housekeepers working on their estate are black and strangely complicit in everything they say and do - "I know it seems weird," remarks Mr. Armitage to Chris, paradoxically making it weird.
These scenes are written and acted with biting humor and wit, and things only get funnier as the movie goes on - no surprise from Peele, a talented comedic mind. In front of the camera, most of it comes from Chris' TSA agent friend, Rod (LilRel Howery) who house-sits with his pooch as Chris is away, giving agitated counsel over the phone when the weird shit goes down. While Rod comes the closest to comic relief, the comedy cleverly and naturally flows from each character.
Yet at the same time, Peele quietly and masterfully lays the groundwork for terror in the background. It mostly begins - and peaks - with the film's crown-jewel scene as Mrs. Armitage (a lovably creepy Catherine Keener) hypnotizes Chris in the dead of night. The scene is responsible for producing the image at the top of the page - one of the most memorable shots in the past decade - that elicits a deep chilling of the blood.
It's legitimately unsettling to experience the horrors inside the Armitage household, as deceptively lovely and inviting the place is seems on the outside. Peele may be known for his comedy, but he uses everything at his disposal - cutting, camera work, writing, score, performance - to maximize the unparalleled creepiness of his unforgettable story.
The rest of the film isn't nearly as iconic, although that doesn't take away from many of the unpredictable twists and turns Peele has in store for us. Perhaps the scariest part of it all is that Get Out draws its inspiration from real-life experiences of many blacks and other minorities, but does so in an entertaining, non-divisive fashion. Get Out provides the rare experience of being both purely entertaining and strangely humbling, and it invites not scorn, but discussion and debate.
To call Get Out a straight horror flick would be incorrect, however, as it's just as much of a dark comedy as well, delivering just as many laughs as it does scares and uncomfortable silences. But especially, Get Out is so relevant just because it cuts straight to the core of a lot of social issues that blacks - and minorities at large - still face. To see life reflected on screen is memorable, but Peele goes well beyond that: it's damn-well relevant.Reportedly, Peele has four more "social thriller" films in the tank, and he hopes to make them over the next several years. If Get Out was any indication, these next several years are gonna be ones to remember.
Rated R. 103 minutes.
Written and directed by Jordan Peele.
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Bradley Whitford.