US | 2017 | Directed by Jordan Peele
Logline: A young black man is invited to visit his white girlfriend’s parents estate and soon realises the family has a very dark history.
It is very rare for a movie riding on such a massive hype machine to actually deliver. Most movies are destroyed under the weight of their own hype, or they are seen as promising, but deeply flawed. Peele is a successful comedian, both as an actor and writer, who then turns his hand to directing, and makes a horror movie, being a big fan of the genre, and effortlessly crafts a sensational thriller with a solid backbone of horror, that also, cleverly, brandishes a darkly satirical blade. It’s a real impressive package and one of the best movies you’re likely to see all year.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), is a talented street photographer. He’s been dating Rose (Allison Williams) for five months. She comes from a wealthy upstate family and the weekend has arrived for the proverbial meet the parents affair. Chris can’t help but feel a little nervous. Rose assures him that her folks are not racists, I mean, why would she even bother introducing him if they were? Chris is hanging to smoke a cigarette, but Rose won’t let him.
The Armitage homestead seems welcoming enough. Sure, Dean (Bradley Whitford) is overly enthusiastic and a tad embarrassing, Missy (Catherine Keener) is more-than-happy to demonstrate to Chris her hypnosis skills so he can kick smoking, and Rose’s younger brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is a bit of a loose canon, but nothing Chris can’t handle. What does strike him as a little disconcerting are the two black servants, Walter (Marcus Henderson) and Georgina (Betty Gabriel).
Peele’s screenplay is an absolute cracker. His understanding of horror tropes is bang-on, and he knows exactly how to ply them within his own take on the “everything seems right, but there’s something horribly wrong” scenario. Get Out plays a fresh game on an age old nightmare; the hapless good person being pushed back and trapped by a steadily tightening screw of evil. Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.
Right from the pre-opening credits scene when a black man is viciously abducted off a well-heeled suburban street, and into the ominous plantation lullaby being sung (which returns again over the movie’s end credits) as country trees blur by, then into a montage of Chris’s striking monochrome street images, you know you’re in the hands of a director oozing talent. We meet Chris and Rose, and hope they’ll be okay, because they seem really nice people.
Peele has not only garnered a fantastic cast (I’ve been hanging to see Allison Williams in a movie, having enjoyed her on the “Girls” television show), but also got some truly great performances. I take my hat off to Kaluuya for his utterly convincing role as bewildered, suspicious Chris. The dialogue pings off the walls. Whitford is also a standout, as is Williams, and Gabriel as the timid servant who Chris thinks is crazy.
Despite Peele’s pronounced background in comedy he has woven his sense of humour through the movie with expert control. There is comic relief provided by the role of Rod (Lil Rey Howery), a TSA officer (Transportation Security) and close friend of Chris, who tells his buddy straight up, you do not want to be setting foot inside your girlfriend’s folks' house. Rod wears his uniform with pride, and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, he pretty much sees himself as the black cavalry.
Get Out is doing gangbusters at the US box office, and it will no doubt do the same down under. There’s something curious about its success; it has a crossover appeal, so here’ll be audiences made up of people who normally don’t watch horror movies who will come out saying, “Oh wow, that was the amazing!” And there’s the racial element. It’s not really a sub-text, it’s plain to see and understand. I wonder how many closet racists will see this movie and laugh along at the blackly comic digs at racism; the stereotypes spouting diatribes about Afro-American men being great at sport, having great physiques and sexual prowess, that in fashion black is the new white?
Peele has said he has another four “social thrillers” he wants to make. I’m sure production company Blumhouse, now enjoying the handle of “the Pixar of horror movies”, will sign Peele up for all of them, and, that will make a lot of people, like myself, very happy, because Peele has the chops. With Get Out, he’s knocked one clean out of the park, and I’m sure he’s just getting started.