Jordan Peele’s Get Out has quite accurately been described as a horror movie where the villain is racism. In this accomplished first feature, Peele intelligently intertwines historical contexts of racially motivated oppression with post-9/11 and post-Obama sensibilities in order to critique contemporary race relations in America. As if that isn’t ambitious enough, he reinvigorates textbook horror tropes – a young couple out for a drive, the slow inching open of an ominous door – along the way.
After a slow build as protagonist Chris’ (Kaluuya) discomfort grows, Get Out becomes a thrill ride in which gradually dropped clues and figurative imagery slot delightfully into place. The tightly wound plot unspools with expert control. Some elements are guessable, but there are also fantastically judged reveals which balance the audience on a knife edge of possibility, creating visceral tension and even panic.
While the faultless structure and pacing will please thriller fans, Get Out also rewards cinema lovers with diverse reference points. At its best the oozy cinematography (by DoP Toby Oliver) approaches that of Stoker, while vestiges of Ex Machina and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest seem to inform the aesthetic and narrative threats.
The casting is absolutely spot on. The central couple have a convincing chemical frisson, and Williams really breaks the Girls mould with a dramatic display of range moving from the familiar to the revelatory. Bradley Whitford plays both with and against type as the Freudian-styled cringy dad, while Betty Gabriel creates a skin-crawling creepiness perhaps only rivalled by Ex Machina’s Kyoko.
Get Out is an enthralling, bitingly witty and uber-timely allegory of racism in America. The gory denouement, however, pushes violence and adherence to horror characteristics a bit far; it’s a shame the protagonist is forced to somewhat sacrifice his moral superiority.
CAST: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel
DIRECTOR: Jordan Peele
WRITER: Jordan Peele
SYNOPSIS: A young African American man visits his white girlfriend’s family estate and begins to uncover a horrifying secret. Can he get out before he becomes the next victim?