UK Release Date: 17th March 2017
Runtime: 104 minutes
Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Lil Rel Howery, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, LaKeith Stanfield
Synopsis: A black man visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time and immediately notices something very odd about how outwardly tolerant they are given their enormous house, immense privilege and black staff.
Horror movies, more than perhaps any other genre, are a reflection of the time at which they are made. That’s certainly true of Get Out – the directorial debut of sketch comedy veteran Jordan Peele – which is steeped in the America of Black Lives Matter and the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency. This is a movie that tackles so-called ‘post-racial’ head-on with an eye not on the frothing Klansmen of the Deep South, but on the insidious lurking racism of outwardly liberal suburban white people. It’s a complex, sophisticated horror film that has a clear political point to make but, like the best of Cronenberg or Craven, Peele knows how important it is to shock, scare and amuse in equal measure.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) travels to a secluded country home with his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) in order to meet her parents. He is immediately freaked out by the bizarrely servile housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Rose’s father’s (Bradley Whitford) overly nice attempts to ingratiate himself. Chris is further unsettled by Rose’s mother (Catherine Keener), who offers hypnosis to help Chris stop smoking, and oddly aggressive brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), who barely conceals disdain. A high-class garden party over the weekend leads to hints at something seriously dark lurking beneath the quaint, picturesque location.
Get Out is a film that made me, as a liberal white man, feel incredibly uncomfortable in the best possible way. It’s a skin-crawling depiction of the concealed racism behind the net curtains of suburbia that revels in the discomfort it induces in its audience, placing them firmly in the corner of its black central character. From the earliest moments of the film, we’re programmed by Peele to notice the microaggressions perpetrated against Chris and the deeply unsettling world of the secluded house – a separation conveyed brilliantly by frequent phone calls to Lil Rel Howery‘s scene-stealing TSA agent.
It’s tough to delve too deeply into the themes of Get Out without divulging plot details, but it is important to say that Peele’s satire is razor sharp and incredibly timely. The script is piercingly funny throughout, but also mines some great laughs from the sheer discomfort of the horror. It’s a movie that rewards multiple viewings, with a script that is layered with foreshadowing and hidden references. Peele is as much a horror fan as he is a comedian and that is a tone that works to great effect here, balancing Black Mirror standout Daniel Kaluuya’s likeably straight central turn with the more broad comedy of a performer like Howery, who eventually proves to be far more than the comic relief act he initially appears to be.
The performances across the board simply enhance the discomfort of Get Out, whether it’s Bradley Whitford’s cringeworthy attempts to woo Chris or the fact that Allison Williams’ character seems to be the only person in the film with any notion of how to talk to a black person. Her character goes in interesting directions as the movie progresses and her performance is a delight to watch, with its subversion of girl-next-door beauty. Perhaps the standout, though, is Betty Gabriel, whose character reveals new, chilling depths as the narrative continues to unravel and spill its secrets.
For all of its knotty revelations and high-concept horror premise, Get Out‘s real genius is how it worms its way under your skin and lodges itself in your brain. This is social commentary at its most incisive, swiping with humour and horror at the insidious racism that still exists in America and indeed all over the world. Peele conveys his central thesis, wrapped up in a near-perfect horror movie. Watching the film, it’s tough to believe that a work as accomplished as this could come from a first-time filmmaker. You’d think that Peele has been shooting movies for his entire life.
Get Out is a movie that combines exquisite body horror with creeping dread of the best kind and the occasional jump scare, deployed like a genuinely terrifying depth charge to jolt the audience. Peele has produced something truly special with Get Out and made a film that stands out as exemplifying a word I don’t like to use often – masterpiece.
Pop or Poop?
Get Out is by far the best film of 2017 thus far and perhaps the best horror movie of the last few years. From Jordan Peele’s extraordinary first-time direction to his incredibly witty script via an arsenal of great performances, this is the perfect allegory for race in the modern world. It may have been conceived years ago, but it feels bracingly timely – the first great movie of the Donald Trump era.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.