By Brian Harris, Staff Writer
If anyone ever tells you that a smart movie can’t be fun, you should show them Get Out.
The best picture nominated film is one of the best horror films of the last decade, a beautifully acted thrill ride that plummets from scene to scene with Carpenter-esq intensity. It also has a brain underneath that sheen, with some incredibly insightful social commentary woven in between the scares. On top of all of that, Get Out is a satire of modern race relations, with some genuinely funny bits of comedy that never once threaten to plunge the film into the realm of parody. And its this tightrope walk between genres that gives Get Out its brilliance; it’s not a horror movie, or a politically minded thriller, or a satirical look at American race relations. Its all three at once.
Let’s get to the premise here: Daniel Kaluuya gives a star making performance as Chris Washington, a black photographer who, along with his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams in a great supporting role) take a trip to the country side to spend the weekend with her family.
And although the parents (played by an unnervingly friendly Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) claim to be as liberal as can be, soon enough racial tensions begin to rise as Chris discovers there may be a more insidious machination lying just beneath the surface. Many have pointed to the film as a sort of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner meets Stepford Wives, and while, yes, that comparison is apt, there really isn’t much quite like Get Out.
Which makes it even more staggering that this is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. Peele shows from the very first long take shot that he understands the craft more than many of his colleagues with much longer careers. From the discomfort of the Armitage’s constant awkward moments to when things land more on the horrific side in the final third of the film, Peele has a sense of confidence in his camera that so many just don’t. That’s not to say every shot is perfect, but for a first-time director it’s an incredible achievement, and one that cements Peele as one of the most promising new directors in recent memory.
Like I said in the intro, this is a film that does almost too much right. The horror elements are genuinely terrifying; many modern horrors love to overload on the red stuff, with every other scene a horrifying death or dismemberment.
But Get Out feels shockingly old school in that it’s a film that relies on restraint and tension. From the start of the film all the way to its thrilling third act, this is a film that demands the audience be uncomfortable, every little tick or racial dig burrows itself deeper into you, until Get Out has you right where it wants you. And then the violence comes, you can’t have a horror without it, can you?
Getting to the social commentary part of the film, what I find so impressive about it is that its not a message I’ve seen in a movie before. Its not the same old, tired tropes a hundred other racially inclined films have tackled, this is something unique not just to Get Out, but to this particular moment in history.
Above all else, Get Out feels like a film made for the here and now, culturally relevant and most likely even historically significant, it’s a film that wouldn’t have been the same ten years ago. Get Out is a movie for 2017, and its all the better for it.
Not your typical Oscar movie, Get Out is, above all else, a good time, with layer after layer of complexity beneath its surface. Smart, funny, scary and insightful, Get Out is not only one of the best horror films of the 2000’s, but the racial commentary today’s world so desperately needs.