Get Out is the latest horror and much-acclaimed film from Blumhouse Productions and the directorial debut of Jordan Peele (one-half of the comedy duo Key & Peele). Far from an all-out comedy Peele has created a brilliant original horror thriller with splatters of belly laughs that will have you thinking as well as jumping out of your seat. The plot surrounds black photographer Chris Washington and his white girlfriend Rose Armitage who are off for a weekend trip to meet Rose’s parents. Despite words of warning from best friend Rod that meeting these white middle-class parents, neurosurgeon Dean and psychiatrist/hypnotherapist Missy, may not turn out too well. What does Chris really have to worry about? What could go wrong? Rose’s parents can’t be racist they voted for Obama, right?
Like all great horror films Get Out doesn’t show the monster straight away and there isn’t a more terrifying monster than one that isn’t visible. In this story it’s the immediate undertones of racism that are the apparent monsters at this perfectly ‘nice’ family home. The staff of this white family all happen to be black, and there’s a general vibe of creepiness and ‘stepfordwiveness’ that has taken hold of any black person Chris encounters during his stay? Is he paranoid and it’s all perfectly innocent or is there more to this smiling privileged community than we’d care to find out?
Ultimately Get Out is about what it means to be black in American today highlighting the passive racism they face every day. This is especially poignant as we enter a new political era in the USA which has brought race relations to boiling point. Social media has shone a not so complimentary light on how authority treats black Americans showing that not enough progress has been made. However, what makes Get Out so great from a filmmaking point of view is the brilliant horror film structure that lies beneath the satirical look at middle-class liberal America. Peele has certainly proved himself as a director and I look forward to what’s next from him.
Daniel Kaluuya is brilliant as Chris and he is the definitely one to watch. He excellently portrays his unraveling of paranoia and fear as well as nailing some great intense, yet subtly played, emotive scenes. TSA agent and best friend, Rod played by Lil Rel Howery, steals the show from a comedic point as he delivers most of the laugh out loud lines and is a welcome relief from otherwise increasing tension. Great performances also come from supporting cast; Catherine Keener as Rose’s mom and sinister Hypnotherapist is intense and threatening, Allison Williams is the perfect doting girlfriend Rose playing a very good ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ role and Caleb Landry Jones increased the creep factor to 11 as Rose’s brother Jeremy.
Get Out, like Blumhouse’s last effort, the amazing Split, benefits by not relying on gore but on wonderful character performances and perfectly executed unfolding of a modern twist on the horror thriller genre.
The best horror films are ones that make you think, make you laugh and that have elements in reality. Get Out fulfills all of these and demonstrates that the scariest parts of this fantasy are in fact steeped in our cultural reality. Think Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner meets The Stepford wives.
Get Out is in NZ cinemas now!
Reviewed by Ian Wright and Ingrid Grenar.