Director: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allsion Williams & Bradley Whitford
Synopsis: A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.
Rating: 15 Duration: 104 minutes Release date: 17 March (UK)
Watching Get Out for the first time, it slowly dawns on you that you are watching something special. Here, we have a horror film that is scary, tense, funny and has a lot to say about modern race relations. First time director Jordan Peele has assembled a brilliant horror film that is as good, if not better, than anything that has been released recently and has strong echoes to the original Night of the Living Dead.
We first meet Chris as he is preparing himself a for weekend away at his white girlfriend’s – Rose – parents house. What the parents don’t know is that Chris is black, a problem Chris manages to foresee and one his girlfriend does not. After injuring a deer on their way, Chris and Rose are pulled over by a police officer who seems intent on giving them both a hard time. Once at Rose’s parents home the awkward feeling between Chris and Rose’s parents soon sets in. Dad tries to get on side by clumsily calling Chris “my man” while Mom has strange intentions of hypnotising Chris, to cure his cigarette addiction. What’s also disconcerting is the families use of two black people who tend to their home and are kept in some sort of sedated state. This leads Chris to suspect something is wrong here, but will he figure it out before it’s too late?
I may have said this before, but modern horror films have taken something of a beating. There have been some genuinely great films made like It Follows, The Witch and You’re Next but mainstream horror has been a little dull. Thankfully there are still good films being made by talented people and Get Out is one of those films. A strong story is backed up by focused direction, a powerful lead and a dedication to creeping the audience out.
Starting off slowly, Get Out succeeds in brutally ramping up tension and leading us to a truly memorable ending. There are moments that will make you jump, while others will have you questioning how much more tension you can take. It’s also incredibly funny, with Chris’ friend Rod proving some genuinely amusing moments while also being the only who can see what is actually going on when no one else does. There are nods here and winks there, but Get Out skilfully builds towards its end by letting every moment sink in slowly.
There are times when Get Out threatens to get too silly, but director Jordan Peele is quick to address this and by laying the foundations early on we are loath to question the madness come the film’s end.
Get Out has a powerful lead in Daniel Kaluuya, who has the power to make this whole scenario seem believable. He is charming and more often than not, lets his expressions do the talking. There is something compelling about him and the film rests on his broad shoulders. Bradley Whiford succeeds in being skin crawling creepy as Rose’s Dad and is almost unrecognisable under the thick white beard he is sporting. Catherine Keener is more understated and allows the audience into her domain with trust, something we will later regret.
As well as being scary, Get Out is also very smart. There’s plenty of social-political themes to be explored and it has more than a few things to say on current race relations. What it smartly does is present the everyday racism that no one talks about. The look a black man gets in a whiter than white community or awkward small talk they make to try to alleviate the tension; “I know Tiger.” It notes where this comes from too and it’s not a radical movement or a Nazi sympathiser. No, this comes from your neighbour, your parents, the left-wing newspaper readers and the people who don’t see the minutiae in a situation and how uncomfortable it makes people. Note how the only person not bothered by Chris’ colour is a blind man.
The result is a wonderfully made horror film that sinks in slowly and dares to stay with you. It’s a remarkable debut from Jordan Peele and a first starring role for Daniel Kalyuua and one that will surely go down as a modern classic.