Get Out is an astonishing movie even beyond what the trailer itself implies. While we were promised at least a horror movie, it also manages to cross over into something of a Key and Peele sketch at some points. For a movie that’s Jordan Peele’s major debut outside of the comedy genre, it reads with influences as disparate as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? to The Stepford Wives, and it all makes for a very disturbing as well as cathartic experience.
The premise of Get Out isn’t that different from what the trailer would lead you to believe, but like any art the execution can change or destroy anything, and that’s where the movie is truly successful. Jordan Peele’s writing as well as directing are very a finely tuned machine, though it helps that horror can simply be an inversion of comedy in terms of timing, but it still bears his distinctive mark.
The movie itself starts off as a reverse Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? as the trailer gave away. But it runs the gamut from police suspicion of black people, to the simultaneous desire for and harm surrounding black bodies, the continuing legacy of slavery, as well as the fear that comes with being the only black face in a sea of white people who, while ostensibly liberal, say disconcerting things. Peele’s writing makes use of the full range of discomfort that comes with being black in America, and it serves to fuel what would on its own be a tense horror movie, but connects it back to a world that’s unfortunately all too real. The climax of the movie in particular deals with a very omnipresent theme from the beginning: the desire of White America to experience the cultures of others, whilst being armored from the consequences of living in the bodies that suffer for that culture. There’s no culture that’s been endlessly plundered and recycled for White America more than Black America, something made all too literal in this movie.
Great horror has tended to function as a metaphor for something else, and the ones in in Get Out are no different, it’s very much in the mold of classic horror like The Night of the Living Dead, and Jordan Peele uses this to great effect. The performances are no different in that regard. Daniel Kaluuya in particular has to exercise a different set of muscles than say his performance as Chris in Black Mirror. While they’re, on the surface, both dramatic ones, Kaluuya in particular has to bear the burden of being the focus, as well as the outlet of a movie that relies on him for dramatic/comedic tension and development of several hundred years of misery and anxiety for black people. Rose (Allison Williams) similarly works as a great foil for Chris as the white girlfriend who kicks off the whole thing who’s just “woke” enough to perceive racism both broad and subtle, but also doesn’t understand just how different of a world her boyfriend has to navigate, let alone that “voting for Obama for a third time” doesn’t make one immune to acts of racism. Bradley Whitford gives an understated and creepy performance as Dean: Rose’s father, which unfortunately doesn’t get to bear the dramatic weight of the movie as much as his wife Missy (Catherine Keener) who dominates the proceedings the most out of the immediate family.
That being said, Get Out has a chance to transcend beyond the immediate zeitgeist of its iconic trailer. It could very well end up being like The Night of the Living Dead: a timeless marker of race in America. While the immediate concern regarding race in America isn’t necessarily the mole-like subtle racism of white liberals these days or their denials of harm towards minorities, it’s still something that has its claws buried deep in the American subconsciousness. What Jordan Peele has said with this movie cannot be understated, and given the general dearth of movies starring and centering around minorities, let alone ones that are explicitly about race: Get Out feels like a gift. It might very well be time to get out of the loop we’ve trapped ourselves in with regards to the discussion of race.
4 Flashes out of 5
(Note this review was thanks to Universal Screenings)