Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.
Release Date: February 24th, 2017 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Jordan Peele Actors: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, Lil Rel Howery
ndrew Logan King (Lakeith Stanfield) navigates through a creepy, confusing, affluent suburb on foot. It’s not long before a white car pulls up beside him, as if stalking the poor man. Fearful of the types of racists who might negatively view his presence in the neighborhood, he turns around to walk the other way – but is quickly attacked by a masked assailant, choked out, and thrown into the vehicle’s trunk.
Shortly thereafter, 26 year-old, aspiring photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) plans a trip to his girlfriend’s parents’ house for the weekend. “Do they know I’m black?” Young, white Rosie Armitage (Allison Williams) assures Chris that her parents aren’t racist, and that there’s no reason to worry about meeting them. But the drive gets off to a rather foreboding start when a deer leaps out in front of their Lincoln SUV and damages a sideview mirror and headlight. And then the police officer they call upon needlessly questions Chris, surely because of his skin color alone. Once they arrive at the palatial estate, neurologist Dean (Bradley Whitford) and therapist Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) seem like jovial, jokey, and welcoming people – if a touch too friendly (as if in the locality of the Stepford wives or on the isle of the Wicker Man).
The cinematography and composition in general are very much conducted in the style of a horror movie, with jump scares, ominous music, spontaneous visions/flashbacks/nightmares, and camerawork that follows over the shoulders of characters as they slowly investigate ill-lit areas. Plus, the lens favors a bit of wandering around, to specifically notice questionable oddities and bizarre behaviors (or, rather, to make normal behaviors seem unnerving). The employment of a couple of black servants, an unexpected shindig, a closed-off basement, Rose’s aggressive brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), and the clarification that the nearest house is across the lake – granting total privacy to the premises – further transform the modest serenity into something not quite right.
Unsubtle and, alternately, unintended racism, along with the oft neglected concerns and fears of black men amongst white surroundings might be the main point (unexplored African-American societal experiences in mainstream cinema), but it’s difficult to ignore the haunted house tactics utilized to embellish these themes. The commentary is evident and thought-provoking, but the satirical components are intermittently overbearing. Were it not for these notes, however, the story would feel far less original. Nevertheless, the introduction of the heightened suggestibility of hypnotism brings a new level of ghoulishness to the scenario, obscuring the straightforwardness of several primary metaphors. Paranoid and conspiratorial elements steadily grow more outlandish and frightening.
Kaluuya is exceptionally grounded (continuously tossing around genuinely inquisitive expressions), making the eerie situations more realistic and more humorous. His performance is superb, especially against the abnormalities of the other players; there’s a piercing authenticity about him that is rarely captured onscreen. Through him, “Get Out” succeeds admirably at mining considerable comedy from the plight of an uncomfortably out-of-place individual in a world of intolerance. His disbelief is occasionally laugh-out-loud funny (aided, too, by his comedic friend Rod [Lil Rel Howery], who vocalizes many of his distresses), providing a nice contrast to the bloody thrills toward the conclusion. In the end, the horror overshadows the dark humor, but it’s still a wild, ferocious, and facetious ride.
– Mike Massie