Cocktails & Movies Review: “Get Out” – A Horror Debut Of The Highest Caliber
by Mike Reyes
Jordan Peele makes a writing/directing debut so impressive, it’s destined to be a horror staple.
Socially conscious horror films can be pretty horrific, whether it be because of the actual horror in the content they provide, or just because they’re a really bad movie. Directorial debuts can be equally as painful, as talented folks who’ve “always wanted to direct” can be just as weird to watch. So somewhere, in some Hollywood lab, Get Out must feel like a film that’s grasping at a relevant subject, with comedic talent Jordan Peele trying to make himself relevant as a solo act. That lab couldn’t be further from the truth, as Peele is a true student of the horror genre, and has made a tremendously thrilling film that should stand as one of the pillars of social horror done right.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) have been dating for four months. Surely that’s enough time to wait to introduce your African American boyfriend to your WASP-y family, especially when you haven’t told them his ethnicity? What begins as a strange trip to meet the family (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener) turns into something a lot more sinister, and more deeply disturbing than what you could ever imagine.
You can tell that Jordan Peele has had Get Out on his mind for a while now, as the film is nothing short of a breathless horror thrill ride. Not once does the film step out of line, nor does it deflate its tension with undue humor. If anything, the humor helps amp up the thrills, as the threat of further danger is always lurking out of the frame. This is thanks to Peele’s sense of atmosphere and world building, as he takes his time conditioning the audience into the right frame of mind that allows Get Out to really screw with their expectations.
And at the center of it all is the all at once vulnerable and strong performance by Daniel Kaluuya, whose Chris is our guide into this world of macabre race relations. His relative innocence pitted up against Allison Williams’ naivete and the subtle menace of both Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener is what makes this film such a powerful horror film, as he’s put through quite a ringer of societal, mental and physical pain. All of this without stooping to stereotypical racial tropes, and without using the granddaddy of all racial slurs.
Though a moment should be taken to praise the entire supporting cast of Get Out, as there’s no role that’s out of place. If all you know of Allison Williams is her role on Girls, then you’ll probably be a bit surprised with her role as Chris’s girlfriend, as she’s definitely given more of a range than the show has. Not to mention former X-Men star, and character actor in the making, Caleb Landry Jones, as well as beloved character actor Stephen Root, both play some rather memorable members of Rose’s family. But perhaps the one actor that almost steals the film completely from under everyone else’s feet is comedian LilRel Howery, whose TSA agent / best friend to Chris is drop dead funny. His appearances help relieve the pressure of the threats that came before, while helping prime us for the next round.
Get Out is probably one of, if not the most, artistic horror films on the market. It helps that protagonist Chris is a photographer, which more than likely informed Jordan Peele’s writing and directing process in telling his story. But even in the prologue that takes place before Chris’s story, or even in the moments he’s not involved in, there’s a slick menace to Peele’s visuals and sound design. With the score and sound effects used as tools to enhance the dreadful atmosphere, rather than shock the audience into a cheap scare, it’s as if we’re being conditioned right alongside Chris. We’re just as helpless and scared as he is, and that’s something horror films forget to do by and large.
Get Out isn’t a blunt instrument trying to bludgeon you with its message, rather it’s a subtle knife that cuts you in all the right places. With Jordan Peele’s strong and confident voice as a writer, director, and horror auteur, his ascendance should not only be seen as a triumph of diversity, but also as a victory for the horror genre. I, for one, am looking forward to whatever Peele does next, as he’s proven that he’s ready to take the reins again, perhaps on a bigger scale than before.
My Rating: 5 / 5