Over the last few months one film has received quite a bit of attention outside of the hustle and bustle and excitement associated with the Oscars and Golden Globes. While awards nomination season was ramping up movie fans began to learn of a rather unique-looking film, “Get Out”, that presented itself as a horror flick that dared to tread on the delicate ground of race relations in an era where the subject matter is quite the delicate topic of discussion. With the movie finally hitting theaters over the weekend we find what could have been an over-the-top and heavy-handed collection of horror clichés is actually quite the entertaining, and thought provoking film that deserves the outstandingly impressive accolades it has piled up in its first weekend on the big screen.
Written, produced, and directed by Jordan Peele of all people, one half of the modern comedy duo Key and Peele, “Get Out” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January and follows a black photographer named Chris Washington, played by Daniel Kaluuya (“Sicario”, “Kick-Ass 2”), who joins his white girlfriend Rose Armitage, played by Allison Williams (HBO’s “Girls”) on a trip to meet her parents for the first time. On edge due to Rose’s parents being unaware of his race, Chris finds himself even more uncomfortable when Rose’s family begins to act strange around him and he realizes several black individuals work for the Armitage family and seem to be all too peaceful in their existence. As the film progresses Chris tries to unravel the mystery behind the strange personalities of the other African-Americans on the property and within the Armitage family, discovering a disturbing truth that puts his relationship, and his life, in danger.
First off, I have to say that over the past few years the horror genre has seen a rebirth. We’ve seen hit after surprising hit, especially in 2016, that showed not only are moviegoers willing to take a chance to enjoy a good fright, they want to see something fresh and new to spice up a genre popular for cliché’s, poor acting, and predictable stories. Despite a few early efforts in 2017 to continue that trend, “Get Out” is truly the first real quality horror film of the year that shows the promise of continuing that growth and evolution of the genre into something movie fans can once again take seriously as more than just a cheap thrill.
Highly original and gripping, “Get Out” manages to touch on some very delicate subject matters with a touch of horror flair, but do so in an impressively tasteful manner. It’s pretty clear that racial tension was a defining inspiration for the movie and throughout the movie there is always the underlying fear and discomfort associated with that issue. Much of the early part of the film actually makes a effort to dispel any racial issues. We get intimate moments between Chris and the Armitage family and even a badass moment when Rose stands up for her man in front of a clearly despicable cop. However, even when the racial subtext of the film starts to truly unfold the eventual antagonists of the story handle the issue with their own sly explanation on how it’s “nothing personal”. It’s difficult to explain in great detail without spoiling the plot of the film, but suffice it to say the movie makes a strong statement about racial tension without really victimizing either whites or blacks as a whole in the process.
Peele and the cast also balance the fear, insecurity, and uncomfortable nature of the film with some lighthearted moments that provide levity that only adds to the film’s charm. Comic Lil Rel Howery plays Chris Washington’s best friend, Rod, who provides most of the comic relief in stark contrast to the serious nature of his costars. He even turns out to play a significant role in the film’s climax and expands the film’s scope beyond just the Armitage household as a bit of underlying satire directed towards the concept of racial divides.
I don’t feel it’s too bold to say if there is one horror movie you see this year make it “Get Out”. As a reviewer, giving movies like this, that have received rave reviews from more professional writers in the industry, a rave review of my own can seem like I’m jumping on the bandwagon, but this one is truly worth the time. Combining fantastic comedic timing, timely underlying theme, constant tension, exciting and satisfying thrills, and a disturbing premise, “Get Out” may be one of the smartest and well written and directed horror films of the past few years, and possibly one of the most shockingly enjoyable since “Don’t Breath” and “Ouija: Origin of Evil” helped usher in a new era of fantastic horror movie late last year. After a few major misses in recent months, “Get Out” puts the horror genre back on track and reminds us that it doesn’t take a brooding and overcomplicated plot to make a good scare and that strong, seemingly untouchable themes can be incorporated into the genre if put in the right hands.