It’s hard for me to talk about Get Out without delving into spoilers, but I seriously want to give it a try. Maybe in the days to come I’ll release a more spoiler-heavy review just to open some dialogue and discussion about the themes that come up in this movie, but for now I’ll attempt the colossal undertaking that is discussing this film without giving anything away. First off, go see it; I know a lot of people I’ve talked to weren’t really sold on the trailers, and to be perfectly honest, I was one of them. At first glance, this looks like a Stepford Wives clone where white people are the bad guys that are somehow brainwashing black people into modern day slaves. This movie is more than that, and quite frankly I was a bit off base.
Get Out stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington, a photographer dating a white woman, Rose Armitage (played by Allison Williams). Rose has invited Chris to meet her parents, and Chris is understandably reluctant given that Rose has admittedly not told her family that her new boyfriend is a black man. Rose assures Chris that this is a total non-issue, and that her parents are progressive people cool with interracial relationships and totally not racist. Upon arriving at the Armitage household, Chris is greeted by Dean and Missy Armitage, Rose’s parents (played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener, respectively). Right off the bat, Dean tries to awkwardly assert himself as being on the up and up; referring to Chris constantly as “My man!” and speaking highly about former President Barrack Obama. This is where the film shows its brilliance; almost everything Dean says can be misconstrued as being racist. As an audience member, you constant finding yourself asking the following questions repeatedly: is what that character saying racist, or am I racist for thinking that?
Almost immediately, weird stuff begins happening. Chris notices that Dean and Missy have a groundskeeper and a maid that are people of color who seem off and twitchy. Missy is very antagonistic towards Chris over his smoking habits, and offers to hypnotize him into quitting, but Chris politely declines. Missy doesn’t take no for an answer, and that’s when shit hits the fan. What follows is a film full of twists, scares, and the absolute crushing of expectations. Just when you think you know what’s going on, you end of questions not just what you’re seeing, but what you believe about yourself.
This film serves as true self-examination of oneself, not just for one specific race over the other, but honestly for all sides and walks of life. It’s far deeper than I ever thought it was going to be, and it was delightfully surprising. Chris is a fantastic character trying to maintain his cool in the midst of a super awkward situation. He ignores Dean’s overzealous nature and insensitive outburst for the most part, and when Rose gets super defensive over a police office asking to see Chris’ license, Chris remains calm and compliant. There’s a scene where we’re introduced to Rose’s creepy brother, Jeremy (played by Caleb Landry Jones) becomes needlessly hostile, and Chris calmly diffuses the situation. Daniel Kaluuya is a fantastic actor that can (seemingly) cry on command and do that visually cool thing where his tears flow down one stream. Allison Williams does a great job in this, which is amazing because I thought she was pretty atrocious in the hit HBO series Girls; I gave up after season two, but I hear she did get better. In this she plays her character as supportive and likable, if not a bit too eager and proud to prove how progressive and she is for dating a black man. Bradley Whitford is a delight, and he can go from warm and caring to completely creepy almost seamlessly in just one line of dialogue, and Catherine Keener is another highlight for me; she plays the exasperated Mother role down to a tee. Her hypnosis scenes are downright terrifying. Stephen Root has a throwaway role where he’s virtually wasted, which is sad because I was hoping he’d have more to do in this when I saw his name in the opening credits.
This is a horror film through and through; it draws a lot of influences without coming off as an uninspired carbon copy. The opening scene comes off as an effective slasher flick taking inspiration from Halloween, and the hypnosis scenes look like something out of a Twilight Zone episode. Speaking of The Twilight Zone, this entire movie feels inspired by that iconic series. Other influences include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as the Armitage family can, at times, feel very much like a soft-core Sawyer family. While this is very much a horror film first and foremost, I’d be remised not to make mention of the fact that this film was written by Jordan Peele, one half of the famous Key and Peele comedy duo. I’m not the biggest fan, but this film has the perfect balance of comedy relief in the form of comedian LilRel Howery. He plays Chris’s best friend and dogsitter, TSA Agent Rod Williams. He breaks up the intensity of the film without feeling forced or unwelcome. He got genuine laughs out of me and the audience I saw the film with, and we were all hardened and grizzled film critics that hate everything and spit on babies (some of us, anyway).
I do think some things in this movie are a bit predictable; one of the characters has a change that was a bit too telegraphed for me to care. Also, there’s a heavy reliance on loud noises and jump scares, which were unnecessary; the film has enough to frighten viewers and we didn’t need the lowest form of terror. Other than that, this is a very solid and surprising film I highly recommend, even if none of the trailers sold you on seeing it. Mark my words; it’ll be a modern classic.
Get Out (2017) Written and Directed by: Jordan Peele. Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Stephen Root, Caleb Landry Jones, Bradley Whitford.
8 out of 10 (which screws up that perfect Rotten Tomatoes score, but whatever.)