Get Out is easily one of the most original horror movies — or just movie for that matter — in years by one of the most exciting filmmakers of our generation.
Take the setup Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the world of Stepford Wives, and the exploration of the black experience in I Am Not Your Negro and you have a movie that is certainly not as successful as Jordan Peele’s near-perfect directorial debut, Get Out. While the movie has elements of others that came before it, the horror-thriller is completely unique in the way it carries them out. It mixes old-fashioned scares and genuinely hilarious comedy with a specific perspective that makes it one of the most original movies in years.
The cold opening of the movie, which features a young black man (LaKeith Stanfield) walking alone down a deserted suburban street, shows off Peele’s aptitude for thriller directing. His uninterrupted shot down the shady street is joined by some truly hilarious comedic timing and a creeping sense of dread that culminates to a worthy opening jolt. And while the scene certainly makes you laugh, it also sets the unsettling atmosphere that never truly lifts from the film — save for a hilarious ten or so minutes where we follow Lil Rey Howrey‘s Rod.
Get Out sets up very much like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) getting ready to meet his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents for the first time. “Do they know I’m black?” Chris asks Rose just before they leave, to which she jokingly responds, “Mom and Dad, my black boyfriend will be coming up this weekend. I just don’t want you to be shocked that he’s a black man.” She has a point and he takes it. However, it seems that his worries were justified when they finally meet her parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener).
This is where Get Out gets really interesting, but not in the way you think. Peele perfectly replicates this seemingly post-racial America that so many people think exists. However, comments like “I would have voted for Obama a third time if I could have” and “Do you play golf? I know Tiger!” suggest otherwise. Up until about a third of the way through the movie, the main focus of the film is the increasing tension in the house due to Rose’s parents’ odd behavior around Chris.
Peele is incredibly patient and doesn’t tip his hand until the last minute possible. Until then, he imbues us with some genuinely chilling moments including an incredible sequence involving Missy hypnotizing Chris using a tea cup. It literally sent chills down my spine. There aren’t any other bit horror set pieces, but the tension in the movie is almost unbearable at some points, as is the yearning for answers. Unlike Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, there’s almost no question that something is amiss in this household, whether it be with Rose’s family or the Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Gabriel), the family’s staff.Although Peele doesn’t blow his big reveal until late into the movie, that doesn’t stop him from dropping hints along the way. In fact, the attention to detail is remarkable. Even details outside of the plot make a huge impression.
Although Peele doesn’t blow his big reveal until late into the movie, that doesn’t stop him from dropping hints along the way. In fact, the attention to detail is remarkable. Even details outside of the plot make a huge impression. Early in the movie as Chris and Rose are driving up to the house, they hit a deer. Chris goes into the woods when he hears the animal crying. And as he’s looking at it, there’s a look of familiarity and sympathy. This is because Chris knows what it’s like to be the prey. That theme continues throughout the movie. Another detail is in the costuming. When the entire neighborhood goes to the Armitage’s house for an annual party, there is a small detail separating Chris from everyone else. While he wears blue, everyone else wears some form of red. It’s that attention to even the smallest facets of the film — the set, small lines of dialogue, clothing, cereal — that make it such a fun puzzle for the audience to solve. It begs to be watched over and over to dissect it.
However, there’s one piece of the film that is almost as pivotal to its success as any other: the humor. Obviously, with Jordan Peele directing a script that he wrote you expect it to be funny. And it is. Every joke lands squarely every time. What’s more impressive, though, is that he earns those laughs. Don’t be fooled. This is not a horror comedy. The first goal of those movies is to make you laugh. The comedy comes from the natural awkwardness of the situation. It comes from the characters — Lil Rey Howrey is particularly strong. Most importantly, it comes from the fact that these interactions, as exaggerated as they may be, are unfortunately true.
Get Out is easily one of the most original horror movies — or just movie for that matter — in years. It perfectly homages classic horror movies while feeling contemporary in its themes. However, it’s also one of the most entertaining movie experiences I’ve ever had. Both times I watched it, the crowd was laughing, screaming, and cheering the entire time. That’s rare to get an entire group of different people eating out of the palm of your hand or the clink of your teacup.