Movie Review: Get Out
R | 1h 44min
Director: Jordan Peele
by Jason Koenigsberg
An African-American man goes to visit his white girlfriends family for a weekend in her home town and encounters some truly bizarre behavior and twisted surprises in Get Out. This is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, mostly known for his comedic work as a writer, actor and stand up comic on Comedy Central’s Key and Peele. It is a strong first feature and after Get Out was over, I for one cannot wait to see what Jordan Peele directs next.
The film opens up with a black man walking a seemingly safe suburban street at night, he is lost and on his cell phone trying to find directions to the house he needs to go, when a white car pulls up and starts driving eerily close to him. A minute later he is abducted by a masked man and put in the trunk of the car. This sets the tone for the rest of the film and this opening ties directly to the final moments of Get Out.
The premise is simple. A black man visits a predominantly white town, where the few black people act very strange and the white people seem obsessed with certain facets of our main character and his race, making him stand out even more than he already does. The metaphor is just as simple, about white people and their fear of different races and desire to control other races that seem stronger, faster and just plain cooler than their own. As one older white man points out, “being black is in”. If Spike Lee had a better sense of humor he could have written and directed this scathing satire on racism in America. He has tackled interracial relationships before in his films, but nothing like this.
Once our main character gets unwittingly hypnotized by his girlfriend’s mother, played perfectly by Catherine Keener, even more strange moments start to take place. Our character drifts into a sunken hypnotic state and does not recall what really occurred once he comes out of it. Get Out takes from horror movies and their cliches, but the whole psychological element was lifted right from Being John Malkovich (1999). It was such a pleasure to see that movies innovative concept used in a different genre.
The acting is just right for what Get Out requires. Initially, the main couple Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) appear to have fake on-screen chemistry, but as the plot develops whether that lack of chemistry was intentional or not, it becomes a strength for the film. Keener and her husband (Bradley Whitford) are superb as a couple that does not appear all that they seem and we know that there is trouble afoot the more they open their mouths. The one other performance that really stood out is LilRey Howery as Chris’s best friend and the only one suspicious about the girlfriend’s suburban white family. His scenes were meant to be comic relief and he certainly stole almost every scene he was in, but as the story progressed so did his character into being a vital part to making Get Out work as exceptionally well as it did. The script works brilliantly as well because a lot of the dialogue that the white characters say to our main character seems out of place and odd, but makes sense once the film reveals what is actually going on.
From all of the trailers to Get Out I was expecting a horror/comedy blend with some obvious social satire. What I was not expecting was to be as thoroughly entertained as I was on a much deeper level than most comedies and horror films deliver. I would love to see Jordan Peele tackle other genres or just make anything because this is one of the most confident and assured directorial debuts in quite a while. Between Logan and Get Out, 2017 is off to a very good start.
Comedy or horror, black or white, this is what I will always think of when I hear the words “Get Out”.