Anchors (Out of Four):
In a lot of ways, Get Out really took me by surprise, not only in the mystery it presents for the audience to solve alongside its protagonist, but also because of the way it took the country by storm seemingly out of nowhere.
Sure, the trailer was very well-done, but it was often tagged on to movies right before the extremely similar looking Cure for Wellness, and I found the two largely indistinguishable in terms of expectations. And yes, I expected Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame) to deliver a solid film for his directorial debut, but Get Out far surpasses his previous body of work.
In Get Out, our protagonist Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) goes with his steady girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to visit her family in a wealthy, Stepford Wives-esque northeastern town. The town is wealthy, aging, and almost entirely white. Rose’s white parents don’t know that her boyfriend is black, and the audience knows from the trailer and the beginning of this film that something strange is going on with any black residents or visitors. I would risk going into spoiler territory if I ventured any further.
The humor is sly and a bit subtler than either the television show or his recent cinematic team-up with Keegan-Michael Key on 2016’s Keanu (an overlooked film in its own right that any fan of comedy should take a look at if they have spare time on a summer Saturday afternoon). The tension that the film creates and the surreal, borderline absurdist tone of some of the horror sequences had me on edge for their entire duration. The mystery that Peele – who also wrote the script – presents us with surprised me with more than a couple of left turns that had the theater audibly gasping at what they were watching.
On that note, allow me a moment to digress and tell you to please, if you can, go see this movie in theaters. It has been years since I attended a film where the audience, as a group, went along for the ride. My theater was extremely vocal, not in an annoying way, but rather in a manner that only amplified both the comedic and horror elements of this film.
And, at the end of the day, that’s really what Get Out is, at least in the eyes of this reviewer. It’s a horror-comedy in the vein of Scream (1996), although much better. A lot of my friends said they felt that the dark humor in the movie, much of it including overtly racial humor, was a bit uncomfortable to watch. I never felt that way, and in fact I laughed out loud more than I felt scared throughout the film. In particular, Chris’ friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), a New York TSA agent, stole the show in every scene he was in, and his frequent outbursts during phone calls with Chris made me question if this was even a horror movie in the first place.
Peele’s commentary about race relations is certainly legitimate, but I never felt like it was heavy-handed or bogged down the film. That being said, before Get Out I’ve never seen a movie create as many pseudo-intellectual think pieces as it did memes. And, while it’s interesting to see how different audiences have reacted to this film, I’d prefer not to talk about either. For that, I’d happily direct you to the Huffington Post, or Salon, or Breitbart, or National Review depending on your political affiliation.
What I’d rather talk about is this: Get Out’s incredible casting discoveries, its haunting musical score, its chilling lighting. I want to talk about incredible performances by the supporting cast, visually surreal horror sequences, and carefully crafted jokes that seemed to mirror the emotions of the audience. The fact is that Get Out is a great movie even without its social commentary, and that is what makes it such a great movie with its social commentary.
It’s also the first truly contemporary horror film I’ve seen in a while. In many ways, the horror genre can seem a bit anachronistic – small towns in the Midwest, teenagers played by 20-something actors, summer camps, and Halloween nights. This isn’t a bad thing. After all, Stranger Things showed just last year that an embrace of the retro can still lead to superb horror for millennials.
Get Out, on the other hand, feels like a stylish, contemporary horror movie, the first one that has really felt “modern” for me in years. From Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” telling us to “stay woke” as we meet Chris and Rose for the first time, to (as I’m told by my more fashion-forward friends) the Red Wing boots and cuffed jeans Chris sports throughout the movie, Get Out feels like it’s made for 2017.
It might also be what 2017 needs as its cinematic season gets into full swing, but I’ll leave that to the reader to decide. Regardless, Get Out is a fun movie that offers twists, turns, mysteries, and laughs that will keep the audience entertained and hooked for the entirety of its runtime.
The verdict on this one: Two anchors down. Get Out of your Towers suite and check it out as soon as possible.
Photo from Fandango