-Comedy icon Jordan Peele tries his luck at horror and comes up with some pretty nice results.
I don’t really think it’s beginner’s luck when Jordan Peele, randomly in February, decided to turn out one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the last several years. The trailers were awesome, and at least from myself and a few movie fans I know, there was a ton of hype to finally see this movie, praying that it never divulged into horror cliches and kept the unsettling vibe from the previews. Our wishes have been realized, Get Out is a really nice little horror film that drips with fun subtext just as the best horror and scifi films do.
Daniel Kaluuya is Chris, a 20-something photographer who is dating a seemingly charming and loving companion in Rose (Allison Williams), and they are both preparing to have Chris meet her family for the very first time on a weekend trip to the family’s estate in the boonies. The catch? Chris is black and Rose (along with her white family who doesn’t know) is white.
Once there, Chris immediately notices something strange about the groundskeeper and housekeeper that stay there, both black, but both seemingly stripped of personalities and act almost entirely like zombies. The family, however, Dad (Bradley Whitford), Mom (Catherine Keener), and Brother (Caleb Landry Jones) do their best to disguise any discomfort with the situation by saying the classic line “I’m not racist, I would’ve voted for Obama a third time.”
As Chris grows increasingly freaked out by the events around him, his friend at home, Rod (Lil Rel Howery) begins telling him the very obvious thing to do: “Get Out!”
Now, I will say one word of warning going into this movie. Whenever anything has the kind of reviews that this has, and it has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, a viewer may exaggerate the quality in their head and go in with unfair expectations. Do not expect this to be the scariest movie of recent memory, and also don’t go in thinking it doesn’t have flaws. In a search for good satire and subtext, there are occasional faults in the characterizations and logic. Get Out is not a perfect film. It’s an important one, and it’s thrilling, interesting, and all of the above, but it’s not perfect. Don’t succumb to your own expectations and be disappointed.
It’s shot very well, and it does occasionally use nice close-ups and slow reveals in order to provide suspense and uneasiness. Peele’s eye for comedy and using solid reveals helps his choices with Get Out, and there is some comedy. It’s such a ridiculous premise based on satire that there are some good comedic moments. It’s not a traditional horror film in that it relies on jump scares or anything, it’s a lot deeper and more robust than that. All in all, we see this estate/neighborhood reveal its secrets over about a 100 minute run time, and up until the third act, the results are hilariously fun. I don’t want to spoil the twists of this movie, so in the interest of being completely objective, I’ll stop here. This is an engaging, thrilling, funny, and interesting movie based on a racial premise that never overstays its welcome into preachy territory. Instead, it captures society’s misgivings and hypocrisies into something that a more experienced movie goer will appreciate, while providing the average viewer enough entertainment value to please. These kinds of wide-release movies that appeal to so many types of viewers are special, and Get Out is just that: special.
Get Out (2017)
Director: Jordan Peele (debut, but writer of: Keanu, ‘Key & Peele,’ ‘MADTv’)
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, and Stephen Root
RT Score: 100%
*** WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW ***
-So, my only complaint with this movie is a spoiler, and it has to do with the reveal at the end: that the family was using the brains of white people and transplanting part of them into the black bodies which had previously been hypnotized in order to achieve partial immortality, and to build super-humans, in the kind of stereotype of ‘white brain, black physical ability.’ This is a nice build on the overall satire that occurs. However, there are some issues with making Georgina and Walter (the house-hands) be Grandma and Grandpa.
There are two options as to why they act as strange as they do to alarm Chris. The first is that the white family was trying to put a good face on it by having the servants smile and put a good face on the situation, but considering that these two have been around for so long, it’s more alarming that they are so distant with the family, rather than familiar. It would make more sense if the servants were super friendly with the family, and if it really is the consciousness of the grandparents, this obviously wouldn’t be hard, because they already are members of the family. It was how standoffish they were that alarmed Chris to not only the racism, but to how strange they were.
The second is the possibility that what’s left of the original black person is fighting against the white consciousness and it creates a very strange and off-putting individual because of the internal struggle. This is the more likely answer. However, maybe for the grandparents to stay near the family and achieve immortality, this makes sense, but why would the family market this off to their rich friends if the process is so imperfect. We look at the auction that occurs for Chris, and everyone is bidding for his body, when they can clearly see in front of them that in Georgina, Walter, and Andre (the guy who the white woman brings to the party that we see in the first scene), the process has been so imperfect as to render the person a complete shell. If the process is that imperfect, why pay money for it? It wasn’t just Gordo from Dodgeball who wanted it because of the sight, it was everyone at the party!
This twist didn’t really make a ton of logical sense, and it caused the camera flash thing to be extremely strange in the context as well. It would’ve been more prudent if they were hypnotizing the individuals to a point where they were just a blank slate and turning them into slaves or servants. This would still be extremely satirical and wrong, but it would also play up the stereotype for the ‘sex slave’ thing, joking about how black men are ‘well-endowed’ let’s say, by stereotype. The stereotyping serves a better purpose, a maid, a housekeeper, a gross white woman using a young black man as a sex object to fulfill a sick fantasy, when done in this fashion. This would then also allow for the actual people to break through at parts like we see in the movie, rather than the imperfect process of transmitting a consciousness.
I realize this is a small complaint, but the movie threatened to lose me, there. If the end wasn’t so damn satisfying when Chris gives them their just desserts, I’d be slightly lower on this movie, rather than having it clearly as a contender for a year-end list.