Get Out and See this Film
You cannot always judge a book by its cover. Similarly, you shouldn’t judge a movie by its trailer. These words of wisdom are especially true for the film Get Out, a film that’s trailers mislead viewers on the type of movie and the quality of it. Get Out may look like a horror film with racism as its driving force, but a closer look will reveal an intelligent satire with horror themes that examine issues about race in America.
The film opens with a mysterious sequence involving a young African-American man walking down a quiet suburban sidewalk at night. He is on the phone talking to his girlfriend when he is suddenly abducted. A few months later, we are introduced to the film’s protagonist, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario, 2014), a photographer in New York City who is packing up for a trip with his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (played by Allison Williams in her feature film debut). The couple is going to visit Rose’s parents in the suburbs for the first time, which makes Chris nervous. Chas resumes smoking due to his anxiety, but Rose reassures him not to worry as her parents are progressive. She does admit that she has never introduced a black boyfriend to her parents before, but said Chris has nothing to worry about. In fact, she jokes that her dad will probably tell Chris he would have voted for Barack Obama three times if he had the opportunity.
When they arrive at the house later that day, Rose’s parents, welcome Chris with open arms. Her father, Dean (Bradley Whitford, Other People, 2016), is an accomplished neurosurgeon and her mother, Missy (Catherine Keener, Accidental Love, 2015) is a psychiatrist with training in hypnotic therapy. Both are almost overly welcoming – awkward to a point – and strive to make Chris feel comfortable with them. Despite the warm reception, Chris becomes alarmed by the odd behavior of the black groundskeeper and housekeeper who act robotic and cold towards Chris.
At dinner, the family gets to know Chris better and learns more about his childhood. Rose’s brother, Jeremy, disrupts the dinner with attempts to embarrass Rose and essentially interrogate Chris. After they all head to bed, Chris slips out to sneak a cigarette in the backyard as he cannot sleep. While smoking, Chris witnesses more bizarre behavior from the staff and steps back into the house to find Rose’s mom, Missy, downstairs. Missy invites him to sit down after guilt-tripping him about his smoking. She then starts asking questions about his late mother before he falls into a trance-like state.
The next morning, Chris wakes up in his bed not sure if what happened was a dream or reality. He also no longer has the urge to smoke. Chris calls his best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery in his film debt) to explain the situation at the house. Rod, a TSA agent, thinks the entire situation is incredibly strange and tells Chris to leave, however Rose assures Chris they will leave the next day. That afternoon, the family hosts an ‘annual’ backyard luncheon for their extended family and neighborhood. The guests are all anxious to meet Chris, but ask uncomfortable questions about being African-American. Chris eventually notices another young black man that he vaguely recognizes across the yard. As Chris approaches, he is shocked by how this man is dressed and his machinelike speaking manner. Chris secretly tries to snap a picture of the man, who reacts to the flash with a seizure-like fit and urges Chris to “get out” before he is eventually subdued. At this point, Chris is beyond suspicious and is determined to find answers, despite the warning signs of trouble ahead.
Written and directed by comedian Jordan Peele, who is best known for his sketch comedy show, Key & Peele, Get Out is a very impressive debut film. Although this is technically a horror film, it really should be viewed as a social satire sprinkled with horror and mystery elements similar to a movie like the Stepford Wives, or the works of Jonathan Swift. Although the story draws heavily on race in its plot, it effectively balances humor, horror, and social messaging throughout the movie, which is not an easy task to pull off, especially in this era. Furthermore, from a narrative standpoint, Peele succeeds in keeping audiences interested in the underlying mystery of the storyline.
In addition to its clever plot, the film has strong performances from its cast including several of whom are newcomers to the big screen. Daniel Kaluuya, a British actor who is relatively unknown in the U.S., does outstanding work in the lead role as Chris. In addition, the actors playing the parents are stellar in their roles. Bradley Whitford, as Rose’s dad, straddles warm and unsettling very well. Allison Williams will also surprise in her debut role on the big screen with her twist on the “good girl,” a role that audiences often associate her with HBO’s Girls. Finally, Lil Rel Howery, a comedian with few acting creds, is also very funny in his supporting role and almost steals the show during his scenes.
Bottom Line: Although the trailers may be misleading, Get Out is definitely worth a watch.
Credits: Directed and written by Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya (Chris Washington), Allison Williams (Rose Armitage), Bradley Whitford (Dean Armitage), Catherine Keener (Missy Armitage), Caleb Landry Jones (Jeremy Armitage), and Lil Rel Howery (Rod Williams)
Studio: Universal Pictures
Running Time: 103 minutes
Jessica DeLong © February 25, 2017