Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
Smitten with his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams), Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) agrees to take off with her for the weekend to meet her parents. He has his reservations; Rose is white and he’s black, and a suburban countryside estate is more than a little out of his comfort zone. Rose assures him no drama will occur — her father Dean (Bradley Whitford) is a brilliant neurosurgeon who voted for Obama; her mother Missy (Catherine Keener) is a successful therapist with local clientele. With only his house-sitting conspiracy-theorist buddy Walter (Marcus Henderson) as his phone-a-friend lifeline for relationship advice, weird little things evolve over the weekend into huge reasons to freak out as the sinister truth is worse than he ever imagined.
Many horror films are built on a common premise of naivety: teens sneaking out to a lake house, a young couple taking advantage of a “free” international vacation, and urban explorers finding remote locations not-so abandoned. Then there’s the single-victim focus — usually a pretty white woman — whose worst fears all come true as they are forced to endure horrors and step up to survive. It’s very rare, however, to show a capable black man in a modern setting as the single-victim focus, this time surrounded by white folks who appear to mean well — right before those unnamed fears are justified… and not in the way you think. While the trailers made the film look like Racism: the Movie, is there more here than meets the photographer’s eye?
Written and directed by Jordan Peele — yes, the guy with the hair and glasses from Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” — Get Out tells a story where the horror is real and, happily, the comedy is organic. Unlike typical Scary Movie fare or several Medea movies, Peele doesn’t go for silliness or slapstick but instead goes for the jugular; laugh is what you do instead of scream or cry. Some of the created situations are horrific in their banality, like looking at an old family photograph knowing that one or more of the people shown are posed corpses; the knowledge of what has happened and could happen perfectly build dread and anticipation, even if the idea seems ridiculous. Imagine the Hewitt family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre as yuppie intellectuals instead of backlot butchers and you’ll have the right idea.
Don’t look for the twist; evidence is everywhere… and obvious once you see through it. While not perfect, the final act sums up the experience but manages to still hint at the complications; even when people have earned your wrath, it isn’t always a simple thing to deliver knowing that it changes you. There’s also the question of sequels, which if the opening reviews and box office take are any indication are practically a sure thing. Well cast and slickly edited, there aren’t too many ways this could have been improved other than a few detailed tweaks on the ending, but by then you probably won’t care as comeuppance comes due… and who knew teacups could be sinister?
Get Out is rated R for violence, bloody images, language including sexual references, and never looking at old folks playing Bingo the same way ever again.
4 Skull Recommendation out of Four