Jordan Peele / Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Lil Rey Howery, Bradley Whitford / Horror / 2017 / 15 / 104mins
QUESTION: What happens when a leading comedian climbs into the director’s seat for an indie horror flick? ANSWER: Great cinema.
When Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) meets girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents, all is not what it seems. Oh how clichéd, I hear you say. But the dynamic suddenly shifts when you take into account Chris is black and Rose is white – and suddenly we have the social satire of our times.
The racist villain has long been on the decline. Although the moral intentions are there, Hillbilly Smith just doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to examining modern white attitudes to black people. Enter Get Out with a timely update for the Black Lives Matter era. Don’t look under your bed for racists, says comedian-turned-director Jordan Peele, it’s the buddy liberals you’ve also got to be wary of.
Equal parts horror, thriller, biting satire and social comedy, Get Out takes the traditional jumpscare formula and turns it on its head and to great effect. Whilst the camera stalks Kaluuya’s Chris relentlessly, and the unnerving presence of each character in Roses’s family et al, there’s still Peele’s humour flowing throughout. Lil Rel Howery, as Rod Williams, provides the delicate balance. Remove him and you lose the satire – his comedy is the weapon.
The story is eccentric, but that fantastical element needs to be emphasised to get to the point. Chris brings stability to the creeping madness that surrounds him. A sigh or a shrug for every racially awkward remark. He brings across the essence that this is what life is for black people. Kaluuya is more or less perfect as your everyday-guy-thrown-deep-into-messed-up-shit. It’s nothing dramatic – he’s simply our guide to the paranoia.
Peele’s debut isn’t a clean sweep. Roses’s little brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is one deep south accent away from fully embodying the racist stereotype. A little bit corny, considering the premise. More shamefully, Get Out adheres to run-of-the-mill villainy by the curtain call. A bloody cathartic end is essential: thankfully, we get one. For too long has the audience not got what it wanted from a horror movie, and that alone is justice.
Get Out is damning from start to finish, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing spectacular about the direction. The actors are solid, the comedy provides sharp relief, a couple of twists later and the moral of the story is left sitting on a plate. Job done.
A truly original horror that captures the social zeitgeist. Genre fans will relish a new spin on the racial-clash thriller. In fact it’s just a great movie. Peele’s cinematic career is off to a flying start.
Film as a Film – 3 / Target Audience – 5 / General Audience – 3
Get Out is in cinemas now
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