Director Jordan Peele pays homage to some of the great horror classics of yesteryear and uses a nice blend of satire and blood to expose the real horrors of racism.
Using grotesque exaggeration to highlight race relations in America is a great way to get a message across. It’s not the first time that a horror film has been used for social commentary and thank goodness it won’t be the last.
What’s weird is that this year’s first great horror film was written by one-half of the sketch comedy group Key & Peele. What we end up getting is a cross between the Stepford Wives, Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner, and Rosemary’s Baby. It’s all mashed together with a racial twist added for good measure. This brilliant storytelling is served with a hint of satire where the tension is ramped up and released with a few giggles or an occasional jump scare.
It’s very rare that you see directors get away with blending traditional horror tropes with comedy. In a lot of ways Get Out reminds me of M. Night Shyamalan’s 2015 film The Visit, another Blumhouse production that successfully blended creepiness with big lols. If you can pull it off, it’s glorious.
So what’s this film about? (Spoiler free)
The story centres on a young black photographer named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) who is looking to take his relationship with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to the next level by agreeing to meet her parents for the first time.
They drive out to the family’s massive house where Rose’s weird parents welcome Chris with open arms, big hugs, and awkward warmth. Rose’s surgeon dad, Dean (Bradley Whitford) immediately lets Chris know that he voted for Obama and Rose’s hypnotherapist mom, Missy (Catherine Keener) wants to cure Chris of his disgusting smoking habit through hypnosis.
As the weekend rolls along Chris starts to realize that things aren’t quite normal. The family has a black housekeeper named Georgina (Betty Gabriel) who looks like she is right out of the movie The Help but doesn’t seem to be mentally stable. The same can be said for the black groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) who comes across as hostile and a tad off kilter too.
The family throws their annual party where a bunch of old white people show up who go out of their way to make sure Chris knows they aren’t racist. One man quips that he always loved Tiger Woods as a golfer.
As time passes, things around the house get more bizarre. Is Chris just paranoid or is he uncovering something far more sinister? In true thriller fashion, the tension is ramped up until we get to the shocking conclusion.
I could get into some of the deeper meanings of this film but that would require me to throw out spoilers. This is really one of those flicks you don’t want to know much about before going in.
Clearly, this movie is about race relations, but not in a stereotypical way. The family doesn’t disapprove of their daughter’s interracial relationship but instead, director Jordan Peele delves deeper and throws out some new and interesting ideas. He doesn’t slam you over the head with preachiness either. The story is crazy but the message is subtle and the entire film has a playful tone.
Allison Williams plays the sweet girlfriend and she has some really great chemistry with Daniel Kaluuya who was able to hide his British accent and put in a solid breakthrough performance. But it is Chris’s best friend played by Lil Rel Howery who’s scene-stealing moments provide a lot of the comic relief. Look for big things from him in the not too distant future.
There is a lot to like about this film and it’s quite amazing what Peele has done with his first horror feature. From beginning to end it’s a stunning piece of work.
We seem to be in this golden age of the genre and Blumhouse Productions once again is showing people that you don’t need a massive budget to create quality movies. It just needs people like you to go and see it and support it.
Over the years we have seen first-time horror directors come out with impressive and original stories like Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, or Robert Eggers’ The Witch. We can now put Jordan Peele in that category and it will be interesting to see what he does next.
This smart comedy, horror gets 4 bloody pieces of popcorn out of 5 from me. Check out Get Out.
Playing at a theatre near you. Rated R and is 103 minutes.