Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele (best known for his work on the comedy sketch show, Key & Peele), is a horror-comedy film starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams and numerous other recognizable names and faces. Built largely around its keen and often uncomfortable sense of racial awareness, the movie follows Chris Washington (Kaluuya) who, at the request of his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Williams), goes with her to visit her rich parents at their secluded family estate. Over the course of their stay at the house, the racially out-of-touch nature of the parents and their affluent old white friends becomes increasingly strange and bothersome to the point where Chris begins to wonder whether their intentions are as wholesome as he’d been led to believe (hint: they’re not).
Peele, making his directorial debut in a genre with which he is not particularly experienced, shows a surprising amount of skill behind the camera, showing a John Carpenter-esque ability to turn the most idyllic residential neighborhood into a nightmarish hellscape. Rather than resorting to the cheap tropes and pitfalls of the horror genre — jump scares, overused visual effects, etc. — Get Out builds tension through its incredibly eerie and disconcerting tone which becomes more and more prevalent as the plot progresses. Early on in the movie the overarching mood is riddled with slight and mostly implicit discomfort driven by the racial ignorance of the Armitage family, and then shifts to a palpably upsetting tone as Chris becomes aware of the family’s intent in bringing him into their home.
One of Get Out's greatest assets is its keen sense of racial awareness, which not only is the source of much of its comedy but also its unsettling style of horror. Especially in the earlier stages of the film, Peele uses the uncomfortable nature of conversation surrounding race to contradict the forced amiability of the Armitage family to draw a plethora of both laughs and uneasiness from viewers. While the movie’s premise isn’t exactly applicable to the real world in a literal sense, Peele uses our society’s historical misunderstanding and ignorance surrounding issues of race to create what is essentially an entirely new genre of social horror based around tapping into our own guilty subconscious, assumptions and fears.
The performances from both the main and supporting cast play an instrumental role in building the aforementioned strange tone of the film. Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitlock, who play the parents of the Armitage family, flawlessly capture the clandestine nature of the family’s overbearing attitude. Kaluuya’s progression from annoyance with the out-of-touch family to desperate terror over the film’s intense and brutally violent third act feels entirely genuine, and supporting actors Lakeith Stanfield and Stephen Root made the best of limited screen time. Lil Rel Howery, who played Chris’ friend Rod Williams from home, had a subplot in the film of trying to save his friend-in-need that felt a tad unnecessary and detached from the main story’s action, but he still served as an extremely effective source of comic relief and a much-needed voice of reason and foil to the movie’s sort of unbelievable premise.
The feature directorial debut from comedian/serious filmmaker Jordan Peele, Get Out is a highly entertaining and simultaneously intelligent half horror, half comedy. There are a couple minor complaints to be had (as there are in most any movie), but it's well worth the price of admission. Go watch it.
Four stars (out of five).