Get Out Review
Meeting the parents takes on a whole new meaning in Jordan Peele’s directorial debut
White middle class America is put under the microscope in this racially imbued horror.Most new relationships will usually reach that special yet awkward moment when you are asked to meet the parents. There have been several movies that have documented this nerve wracking endeavour from the recent Meet the Parents franchise to the slightly older and more befitting Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? In the new horror film Get Out we have Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) who is five months into his relationship with girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams).The time has finally come for that potentially uncomfortable introduction but there is one issue that’s weighing heavily on Chris’s mind - his race. He is in fact a black man and she is a white woman. The shock! Rose is quick to assure Chris that her parents will not have any issue with his lack of whiteness as they are quite liberal and are big, big fans of Obama. So together they set off to the country to spend what will hopefully be a pleasant weekend with Rose’s parents.
Pulling up to her parents house they pass the groundskeeper - a black man - sporting an empty, soulless glare immediately getting Chris’s attention. But Rose’s parents Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford) put his mind at ease as they welcome Chris with open arms and barely even flutter an eyelid at his ethnicity. They even openly admit how cliched it is to have black servants, but Walter (Marcus Henderson) the groundskeeper and Georgina (Betty Gabriel) the maid are like family, so it’s all good.
That’s what it seems, but the longer Chris spends at the Armitage family home the more he starts to notice that things aren’t quite right. The servants are just a little bit too pleasant and Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is an altogether very strange character who’s quick to notice Chris’s good genetic makeup. It’s when Missy, a hypnotherapist, decides to tackle Chris’s smoking habits that things take a decisively turn for the worst and with the behaviour of the servants getting increasingly peculiar Chris begins to realise that his fear and paranoia might be justified after all.
Written and directed by Jordan Peele and produced by Blumhouse, Get Out attempts to make a commentary on the idea of underlying racism apparently inherent in white, middle-class America through horror film conventions. There is probably a lot that can be dissected from this film upon reflection, but for the most part it does work reasonably well as a horror movie.
Daniel Kaluuya delivers a great performance and definitely holds his own
However, possibly fearful of being too preachy or topical Peele adds comic relief through Chris’s best friend Rod (LilRel Howery) who is quick to lighten the mood and although good in his role (and definitely playing up to a stereotype), in my opinion, disrupts the tension a bit too much. Despite this Peele does manage to maintain a steady pace through an increasing sense of Chris’s isolation which is brought to life through Kaluuya’s large expressive eyes and acting ability. Likewise its through the parents and their eagerness to show Chris off to their friends that the atmosphere starts to turn a little sour.
A sharp musical score is woven into the narrative and reminds the audience that not everything is as peachy keen, as it is used with perfectly cued timing. And it’s timing that Peele has managed to master here; yes the ending is where most of the action lies, but it’s in the first and second act that the small gestures amount to so much more. The opening scene for example sets the tone of the whole film: what is supposed to be a quiet and calm (white) suburban neighbourhood, free from crime and violence, harbours something far greater and more dangerous than you could possibly imagine. And its this playing with expectations that makes the horror all the more horrifying.
Get Out is a decent accomplishment for first time director Peele and one that is sure to spark debate post viewing. Even though the ending does somewhat let the film down, feeling slightly rushed and attempting to tie everything together neatly, Peele has taken a topical subject matter at a time of social upheaval and combined political satire with comedy and horror to create a film worthy of your time.
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