What is Get Out? Is Jordan Peele‘s directorial debut a straight-up horror film? Could it be more slapstick, seeing as Peele is well-versed in comedy (Key & Peele)?
Well, luckily for moviegoers, Get Out is both a horror film with a sprinkle of comedy, and it succeeds in its mixture.
The film begins by creating a feeling of uneasiness and, without spoiling any major plot points, quickly gives the audience a taste of what may be to come. There’s a very natural feel to the film that reveals itself within the opening scene. It’s one guy, walking down the sidewalk at night. While searching for a friend’s house, we see and hear him on the phone having a conversation that feels normal. Well, normal until a car decides to drive past him. The nighttime setting coupled with the dim glow of a few streetlights is an example of your classic horror setting.
What happens during the following scenes does a good job of generating curiosity before we dive into developing our main characters, boyfriend Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). The faint score of screeching violins over title credits and a rolling shot of tall trees in the forrest sets the mood. Then, the film takes a sharp turn back into reality. Nothing is abnormal about our two lovebirds, who are first introduced without saying much. Chris is shown shaving his face before packing up his bags to visit Rose’s family.
The Silver Screen is no stranger to actor Daniel Kaluuya’s (Sicario). I’ve heard some say he’s two-dimensional in Get Out, and … they’re correct, for the most part. But that’s the character of Chris Washington! His past slowly creeps up on him throughout the film and he’s timid due to being black in a predominately white environment at the Armitage household. Kaluuya isn’t meant to be passionate with a macho man personality. He’s a dog-owner, photographer and young adult who chooses to live a low-key lifestyle. I don’t think you can knock any actor in this film, but it’s worth noting nobody took your breath away, either.
Almost immediately the film dives into what most of Get Out surrounds, which is the topic of racism and interracial relationships. Chris asks Rose if she’s told her white father, Dean (Bradley Whitford), and mother, Missy (Catherine Keener), that he’s black. Rose said she hasn’t, which makes Chris cautiously optimistic about the upcoming road trip.
The entire film is very in-your-face with its themes, with lines like, “My parents aren’t racist,” and Chris’ hilarious friend Rod Williams (Lil’ Rel Howery) offering a forewarning by saying, “Don’t go to a white man’s house!” Upon meeting Rose’s father, Chris is even greeted to a resounding, “My man!”
Peele doesn’t shy away from his film’s take on the social commentary of how white people look at men and women who are black. In fact, the film hits a certain point where it holds nothing back with conversations that include, “So, do you play football or basketball?”
After understanding Get Out isn’t taking itself seriously as a horror film, it’s easier to look past the few cliché moments during the build-up to its climax. Moments like someone shouting, “Get out! Get out!”
Again, I’m not in the business of spoiling anything in this review, but the film leaves us wanting more of what was offered in the final 20 minutes. However, the feeling of more, more, more actually served as a negative. I felt the film would’ve benefitted by giving us a chunkier third act. Problem is, each scene in the build-up to the big reveal felt necessary enough to involve the audience in what was a fun ride. So, there’s hardly fat to cut, and it’s more me being selfish. Still, I think this is a good problem to have for Peele — it shows that he can build tension and hold an audience’s focus.
Will this reel in big awards? No. Will it be a best-of film candidate? No. But the fact that Get Out didn’t have to become more than a simple, fun, surprising thriller/horror is where most of its charm lies.
I attended an early screening of Get Out thanks to Sly Fox. Get Out is rated R and runs one hour and 43 minutes. The film debuts in North America on Feb. 24, 2017.