Skip to main content

A Worthy Horror Film and Social Satire

          The plot to Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele, sounds like a Key & Peele sketch. It would fit perfectly in their wheelhouse to turn a black man meeting his white girlfriends’ family into a funny horror Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner spoof. But the thing is, Get Out is actually a genuine horror movie, and a pretty good one at that.
          Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is preparing to go to the country with his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) to meet her parents after four months dating. Her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) seem subtly passive aggressive and overcompensating in their niceness towards Chris. He’s also disturbed by how the few black people in the area are incredibly reserved and abnormal in their behaviour. This and a series of suspicious occurrences soon convince Chris that he is in severe danger.
          For a debut film, this is a great first effort for Jordan Peele who though his roots may be in comedy, he definitely has an eye for horror. His direction is clever and he knows how to shoot a scene in the best way to encapsulate a discomforting mood. The writing is also quite good. You get the impression Peele has had more than a few awkward conversations with white people trying to be nice and respectful, as it comes across pretty realistically in this film. The tension in Get Out is great, and the pacing terrific. You know early on something’s amiss, and it allows you to gradually piece together the mystery as things become more threatening for Chris. Never does it lose your investment or its own train of suspense giving it a classic Twilight Zone kind of feel. And though it’s a somewhat slow build, the pay-off is pretty satisfying. Peele creates a claustrophobic atmosphere through unique visuals, and there are even a few good jump scares. The music is quite eerie too, emphasizing African-American culture while the violin screeches both contribute to a creepy mood and hearken back to older horror films.
          Daniel Kaluuya’s been on the fringe of Hollywood for a while now and here his performance carries the movie while also proving once again that the best actors are coming from Britain. It’s a versatile performance and completely convincing, selling even the most ridiculous story points. Chris has his own demons and vices, which give his character added depth and more for Kaluuya to work with. And his chemistry with Allison Williams is really good, they make for a likeable couple. Rose is a pretty standard New York millennial character, but Williams performs this well and gets to play with some added dimension as the film goes along. Whitford and Keener are very good as the in-laws you wouldn’t quite trust, Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson are great as the Armitages’ suspicious help, and LaKeith Stanfield has a couple intense moments. Stephen Root is also in this movie in a creepy role, and Lil Row Howery lends some comic relief as Chris’ friend Rod who’s also the audiences’ on-screen representative.
          Rod’s comic relief is necessary and with a premise like this, comedy is unavoidable. And while Get Out is no Evil Dead film, it does use its humour well and sparingly. Clearly the movie, like a lot of Key & Peele comedy, is a social satire on race relations, but while there is a degree of expected humour on racial stereotypes, and some aspects of Rod’s character are very cliché, the movie’s also a commentary on liberal attitudes towards race. Rose’s family are in no way stereotypical racists, and she herself is very defensive of Chris when, on the road down, a policeman appears to be profiling him. But there’s something prejudicial in their attitudes regardless. Again it’s that tendency to overcompensate (such as bringing up Jesse Owens) and awkward attempts at communication that make the people who disturb Chris most those who are at least outwardly very accepting. It’s a unique target of political satire in this day and age which I really admire. And the reveal of what’s actually going on in relation to Chris’ ethnicity is at the same time frightening, clever, and funny. 
          If I had a problem it would be that the ending doesn’t go quite as far as it could. Also a couple story twists are fairly predictable.
          Nevertheless Get Out is a pretty remarkable horror movie. It’s not particularly novel or ground-breaking in its style, but it’s much more effective than its premise would suggest with some genuinely good scares and well-built suspense, as well as good performances, strong satire, and great direction from someone completely new to the genre. The idea that rising comedy star Jordan Peele could make a legitimate horror movie a few years ago would have sounded as absurd as Louie C.K. writing an action thriller. But subverting expectations is a key component in comedy, so therefore, Get Out being really good may be Jordan Peele’s best joke.

Popular posts from this blog

Mary Tyler Moore's Best Moments

A couple days ago, we lost the icon Mary Tyler Moore. On the Mount Rushmore of groundbreaking comediennes, Moore has an undeniable place (with Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and Cloris Leachman). She was often the best part of the Dick Van Dyke Show, making for half of one of the greatest TV couples. Through her own series, she was a key part of one of the most important and timeless shows of all time. Her kindness, perseverance, and good humour made her a role model for all, but especially women and girls whose greater representation in media she pioneered. She was such an endearingly sweet woman, a champion of diabetes research and a great philanthropist. When watching either of her classic shows, she always felt like a good friend. And now the world has lost that friend.
          In honour of her passing, I want to highlight just some of my favourite Mary Tyler Moore moments both as Laura Petrie and Mary Richards, that attest to what a great comedic and inspirational talen…

Overlooked Specials 12th Day of Christmas

12th Day of Christmas:
Blackadder’s Christmas Carol This Christmas Day how about we dispense with the feels in favour of a mean but comedically genius one-off of Britain’s best series. Even if you’re unfamiliar with Blackadder, the series about a witty schemer reincarnated through various periods in British history, this special should still make you laugh. An inversion of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Blackadder played of course to perfection by Rowan Atkinson is the kindest man in England which everyone uses to take advantage of him. But an encounter with a Spirit of Christmas causes him to change his ways. Most of the Blackadder cast: Atkinson, Tony Robinson as Baldrick, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Miranda Richardson appear here and are excellent, as are guests Miriam Margolyes, Jim Broadbent, and Robbie Coltrane in a role I’m sure inspired J.K. Rowling to request him for Hagrid. And the writing from Richard Curtis and Ben Elton is as sharp as ever. It’s relentlessly enjoyable, funny…

Overlooked Specials 10th Day of Christmas

10th Day of Christmas:
The Small One I think this was the film that first suggested Don Bluth was an animation genius. The 30-minute Disney short about a Nazarene child trying to sell his beloved old donkey Small One, has a beautiful yet unique simplicity to it. Charming, sentimental, and even dark in some places, it knows exactly how to relate the aura of Christmas without using a lot of its familiar tenets. It’s pretty obvious where the story’s going based on the setting alone, but it doesn’t stop you from wanting to see this often sad journey all the way through. No one seems to want Small One for anything that doesn’t hurt or kill him. The animation is standard Bluth greatness: stylistic, expressive, and very pretty to look at. And the music is of the tenderest. Though perhaps not as outwardly artistic as something like The Snowman, it’s more fulfilling, both narratively and emotionally. A wonderful precursor to a wonderful career, The Small One is certainly worth going out of your …