Contemporary Review / Review

Get Out

by Courtney RaveloWriter/director Jordan Peele’s smooth transition into darker material is incredible. Although some people have classified it as straight-up horror, Get Out is more of a psychological thriller/suspense film that starts a conversation about race. I haven’t been in many audiences that have laughed, screamed and clapped as loudly and as unanimously as they did while I was seeing this film. The reactions from the audience said it all; I wasn’t the only one who deemed this movie a modern-day masterpiece.

Intertwining the subtle and overt racism of modern times, Peele constructs a story that has so many twists, turns and surprises that it’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen next or how the ending will develop. This film skirts around most horror tropes and I commend Peele for his outlandish subject matter and the way in which he delivers it. The tone is well-established in the first scene in which a black man is very obviously lost walking through a typical white suburban neighborhood at night. The tension is broken when the man is kidnapped and thrown into the trunk of a masked figure’s car.

After this abduction, we are introduced to the main character, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a black photographer, and his white girlfriend of a few months, Rose (Allison Williams). They are preparing to head out to Rose’s parents’ house in the country. Supposedly, Chris is Rose’s first black boyfriend, but she vehemently assures him that her parents aren’t racist. However, within the first five minutes of meeting them, it’s clear that racism is part of the equation. Are we surprised? No, because it’s not your typical “KKK racism” that many people think of; it’s deeper than that. It’s hidden racism, born in the art of subtlety. Herein is where the danger lies. Chris refuses to let it bother him because he’s so used to the small, snide comments that have been directed toward him throughout his life. He refused to see the signs early on, but even he couldn’t have foreseen the nightmare that was to come by the hands of his supposed “true love” and her gentle-looking and well-intentioned but truly wicked family.

We come to know that Rose’s dad is a neurosurgeon and her mom is a psychiatrist. During their first night’s stay, Rose’s mother catches Chris smoking a cigarette and offers a hypnosis session to help rid him of his nasty habit. The next morning, Chris finds out that Rose just so happened to bring him to visit the exact same weekend as the annual family get together, claiming she “forgot” it was on that date every year. So, not only is Chris dealing with meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time, but he also has to navigate through several other white people he doesn’t know. Rose’s family keeps making rude racial comments, and Chris starts to pick up on something weird going on. Why are the only other people of color present either the hired help or married to one of Rose’s old, white family members? And why are they acting so strange?

The cast is overwhelmingly good. As Rose’s brother, Jeremy, Caleb Landry Jones is particularly memorable. He’s creepy and breathy in his speech, and you just know something’s off about him every time he opens his mouth. Williams is equally chilling, occasionally sounding very emotionally upset in her phone scenes, but portraying no emotion on her face. There’s also Betty Gabriel (playing the maid, Georgina), who delivers a stunningly disturbing performance, keeping quiet and reserved but always seeming like she’s about to break character and explode. Additionally, Kaluuya is delightfully unassuming in his role, which is exactly what his character is supposed to portray.

Concerning the use of music, there is the the beautiful incorporation of a Swahili song that roughly translates to “Listen to your ancestors. Something bad is coming. Run.” It plays in the very beginning of the film, and then again at the end, going full circle. The cinematography perfectly captures the different tones in the film; light and airy when we’re first getting to meet Rose and Chris; dark and gray when Chris finds himself trapped later on. The terror of this film is expressed by the cinematography and the wide-angle shots that eventually get trimmed down to close-ups of Chris, Rose, Jeremy, and Rose’s parents.

But the person my hat really goes off to is Jordan Peele. This is a fantastic spin on race in our current racially-charged era, and it’s intelligently masked behind the genre of “horror.” With a killer plot, killer cast, and a killer conversation happening, Peele has created nothing short of perfection. I never thought a movie would be good enough for me to use this cliche, but this is a must-see for all audiences. Do yourself a favor and go experience the brilliance that is Get Out.

5 out of 5 stars

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