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Talk about a movie that just sneaks up on you out of nowhere. My experiences with this movie prior to seeing it only trace back to last month. My brother came to visit one night, and I was talking about all the movies I was looking forward to in 2017. I was rattling off several big name films like Logan and Wonder Woman before he says “Have you heard of this movie, Get Out?” I and the rest of my family answered no, so we decided to watch the trailer together. I was impressed, curious, and bewildered by the film’s director’s credit: Jordan Peele? As in Key & Peele without the Key? As in Peele, the cowriter and co-lead of Keanu?… Now you have my attention. Let’s see how it turned out!
Get Out is a psychological thriller as well as the directorial debut of Jordan Peele.
Chris Washington has been dating his girlfriend, Rose, for a while now, so they decide to take a trip so that Chris can meet Rose’s family. That would be fine and all, except for the fact that Chris is black and Rose is white. The situation results in a series of complicated, awkward, and even tense encounters for Chris, who simply wants to get this visit over with. While there, he also notices some very sketchy things going on around him, including the behavior of their all-black servants.
Sorry if the synopsis seems somewhat brief, but trust me when I say it’s for the best. I know a good many people who were intrigued with this movie but don’t know what to make of the trailers. I plan to keep it that way not because it would ruin that much, but because ambiguity is key with this kind of plot.
As a movie, Get Out is an odd, yet complimentary blend a several genres and subgenres. The film’s atmosphere is swimming in horror, the premise shrouded in mystery, its themes flirting with satire and drama. The dialogue is even a bit comedic at certain points. Though, if it were a book, it would simply be mystery horror; like if Agatha Christie and Stephen King overhauled a Tyler Perry script. If you don’t get the literary analogy, perhaps just imagine a more grounded, less comedic Key & Peele sketch. If you’ve ever seen the show, you may have noticed how some of the sketches tend to take a dark turn somewhere along the line. Take for example “Baby Forrest Whitaker”, a sketch that while comedic in premise is shot and handled almost like a horror movie. The difference? While Key & Peele is played for laughs (surreal comedy), Get Out is played for thrills, character-building, mystery and suspense.
With that said, this movie seems to succeed in almost every genre it sets out to be. As a horror film it definitely nails the look and feel of an effective scary movie. However, this film leans much more on the side of thriller than full-on horror. There are at least 4 or 5 good jumps to this movie, but nothing that’ll make you scream you’re head off. That’s not a problem for me, though, because all I’m concerned about is seeing the story unfold.
The mystery itself is handled incredibly well. It’s honestly a bit hard to describe without spoilers, but I’ll try. The film has an almost romantic comedy feel to it at first, but that changes fairly quickly when the family enters the picture. From there the suspense starts to build, and build, and build as the events start to pile up and things start getting stranger and stranger. The film has a very good sense of momentum throughout. Some may say it starts off somewhat slow, but I’d refer to use the word calm. Towards the beginning things are very somber and easygoing, but then the oddities introduce themselves only to exacerbate and intensify at a gradual pace. The feeling you get in the first 10 minutes is very different from what you feel an hour down the road. Simply put, you’re investment in the movie increases over time, as you wonder more and more what’s going on. And once you finally know and the mystery is finally over, the film takes an intense, high-stakes turn. I’ll leave that for you to experience, though.
One final area of note is this film’s comedic edge. I know what you’re thinking, and let me assure you that it doesn’t detract from the film in any way. It never overpowers the thriller aspect of the movie. It never ruins an otherwise intense, dramatic, or creepy scene by breaking the tension. It never feels like it’s just shoe-horned in. The comedy honestly adds a lot more to the film than it takes, and is used very sparingly and at just the right moments to be effective. As for the quality of said comedy, this is Jordan Peele. You know what to expect.
I usually don’t mention a film’s cinematography unless it’s really good (or, you know, if it’s really bad). Though with this being a film by a first-time director, I might as well.
Everyone has talked about how weird it is that a comedian is directing a horror film, but that’s one aspect of this movie that interested me the most. Like I said, Key & Peele was no stranger to adding dark, horror themes to some of their sketches. So, this isn’t as big a jump as some are making it out to be. And to that end, I’d say that’s what makes this movies stand out among other horror movies. Yes it’s the premise, too, but it’s also the direction.
Some may notice how this doesn’t feel like a traditional horror movie. Honestly, it has a feel unlike any other movie I’ve seen. I’ve tried to figure out how exactly to describe it, and I think I found the perfect word for the job: adaptable. Remember how I said this film is a combination of genres? This movie simply takes on whatever form of whatever will best fit the scene. For example, a scene that where Chris and Rose are just talking as a couple will be shot, edited, and delivered like a romantic film; whereas a scene where he’s talking to one of the servants may be more akin to a thriller. So on and so forth for scenes that call for a more comedic or horrific approach.
That’s the genius of Jordan Peele’s directing style. Every scene of the film looks great because each scene is appropriate to the situation. Now don’t confuse my saying “adaptable”as saying “noncommittal” or “schizophrenic”. The movie knows what it ultimately is and sticks to its horror roots.
For a story this intense, this emotional, and this confusing, you better have a cast ready to give everything to make this story shine. And the people they got, what can I say? There’s not a single bad performance in this movie. Everyone gave 200% to their roles. Even the actors who were in the movie for less than a few minutes did a fantastic job with what they were given.
Let’s start with Daniel Kaluuya who plays Chris. Most people who have seen the trailers could tell right away that Kaluuya’s performance was someone to look out for. If you were impressed then, know that those scenes are just scratching the surface. Quite frankly I’m convinced he’ll be up for an Oscar next year; he was that good. The character was well-written in the first place, but Kaluuya gives the character the wit and emotional punch it needed to be effective. You can’t help but like him. He’s a good guy with a good head on his shoulders and an eye for bullshit. The character is anything but oblivious and goes about this situation fairly carefully, solving the mystery in his head in a casual and sensical fashion. As for the emotional scenes, he nails it. I wish I could elaborate more, but let’s just say the hypnosis scene shown in the trailer is only one of his best scenes.
There’s Allison Williams who plays Chris’s girlfriend Rose, who does great. She has a lot of material to work with aside from just being the emotional support for Chris. Her take charge, no bullshit attitude makes her a very enjoyable character. You can see why Chris and her are together through their chemistry and comedic timing. In fact, one of the things I liked most about her was her sense of sarcasm. She’s definitely one of the funnier characters in the film, and I think William’s was perfect for the role all-in-all.
Rose’s family includes Bradley Whitford as her laid-back surgeon dad, Catherine Keener as her calculated therapist mom, and Caleb Landry Jones as her erratic brother. While all of these character have varying personalities, they all serve the same purpose in the plot. To that end, they are very effective in their respective roles. It’s good that Peele doesn’t make their intentions, and even their racism, too obvious. He leaves a lot of room for reasonable doubt towards the beginning, which allows you as the viewer to wonder if they’re just closet racists and nothing more. However, as things start to look more sketchy, new layers are gradually revealed. It’s an excellent use of role expansion I enjoyed watching unfold.
Last, but not least, is Chris’s friend Rod, played by Lil Rel Howery. It’s pretty apparent that he’s the film’s comic relief character; he’s practically the main source of the film’s comedy. He’s also only in the film for about 20 minutes, most of which he spends in phone calls with Chris. I mention all of this, because despite his limited appearance as a comedic character in a horror film of all places, he’s probably one of the best characters in the movie. I love this guy! He’s hilarious in almost every scene, he’s not a throwaway character, and he’s never overused. He’s in the movie for just the right amount of time as to not overshadow the general tone. And the scenes he does show up in are only elevated by his presence. Huge props to him, because that can’t be an easy thing to accomplish.
Two things worth mentioning are the music and the visual effects.
The overall score for the film is actually very effective at elevating the suspenseful and horrific scenes into something much more impactful. Though I will admit that it’s not all that special on the whole, the main track “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga” is a very distinct track. It serves to bookend the film, and while it was jarring at first, I found it as a pretty good mood-setter for the film. It has a fitting African style and an unsettling mood that’s simply perfect for this film.
There are also select scenes that utilize visual effects. They border on simple, but they’re effect emits a sense of tragedy, fear, and helplessness. I won’t tell you which moments have effects, but believe me when I say they’re very well-implemented.
A few years ago, I would’ve laughed if you told me that Jordan Peele would create one of the best horror films you’ll ever see. However, here we are in 2017, and I’m not laughing. Get Out sincerely is one of the best horror films in recent history, up there with The Conjuring and Split for sure. It may not have been that scary, but it was smart, creative, emotional, intense, disturbing, and (oddly enough) fun. The acting was incredible, perhaps even Oscar-worthy. There’s not a single wasted minute of film, not one unnecessary character, not one line of dialogue that didn’t serve the mood of the film. I had a fantastic time with this movie and look forward to seeing what Jordan Peele — who, mind you, is just getting started as a director — has up his sleeve next.
Before I give this film its score, I’d like to remind everyone that my review scores are a combination of a film’s technical quality and my personal enjoyment of the film. Believe me when I tell you I tried to find a flaw with this movie. Literally anything. I struggled for days until I finally reconciled with this score. Please know that I don’t give this score often, and I’m not implying that it’s perfect. However, for my personal standards I have to give it:
I feel that this may be one of the least polarizing films I ever reviewed. There are very few people who won’t like this movie, perhaps because the themes don’t resonate with them or the comedy isn’t their thing. Maybe someone will be hoping for a scarier movie, which this film definitely isn’t. Or maybe you’re just…let’s just say this film isn’t approved by the Klan. Though generally speaking, as long as you’re above the age of 10 you’ll probably enjoy this film fine. It won’t offend the politically correct out there (hopefully), and it doesn’t bash you over the head with any messages at the same time. Even if you aren’t normally into horror movies, I’d still recommend it to you for how relatively tame its scares are. Support this movie if you can, because its worth every penny.
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!