'Get Out' Review: A Masterful Combination of Horror and Racial Commentary
By TK | Film | February 24, 2017 |
We knew it. We knew that you White folks weren’t to be trusted. But it wasn’t until my viewing of Get Out, the writer/directorial debut of Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele fame, obviously), that we understood the depths of your fuckery. It’s far more insidious, far more terrifying than we ever expected.
I’m kidding, of course. Sort of.
But that’s the marvelous thing about Get Out — it feeds into our darkest (natch) fears, devours our stereotypes and our tropes, and spits out something wholly unique, terrifying, and entertaining as hell. I can honestly say, without exaggeration, that I’ve never seen a film anything like this one. And we are better for its existence. Get Out is probably going to be one of the best films you see this year. It’s going to make you laugh. It’s going to scare you. And most importantly, it’s going to make you think about race in new ways. It’s a riveting and intense horror movie, a terrific (and timely) piece of racial and societal satire, and just a great fucking film.
The trailers tell you pretty much all that I’m going to tell you — Get Out stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, a young Black man in a burgeoning relationship with Rose (Allison Williams), on a weekend trip to meet her family. She comes from one of those wealthy, West Wing liberal families that loves to tell Black people how much they love Obama and how tragic the plights of the inner city are — that is to say, well-meaning, but irritatingly so. The patriarch of the family is Dean (Bradley Whitford), one of those hale-fellow-well-met types, a charmer who is a little too enthusiastic, while also being jarringly inquisitive. His wife is Missy (Catherine Keener), an easygoing, charming psychologist with a demeanor that’s somehow both reassuring and unnerving. None of this is that unusual — any person of color who’s dated a White person has had these awkward encounters, where the parents smile a little too carefully and shake hands for maybe a second too long, asking pointed questions where you understand what they’re asking, but you also understand that that’s not actually what they want to know. Similarly, when Rose’s family begins acting erratically, Chris chalks it up to the general discomfort of their new reality.
But things go off the rails fairly quickly, particularly when it comes the bizarre and discomfiting behavior of the few other Black people around — groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) and maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel), and more so when, at a large garden party, the one Black guest, Logan (Keith Stanfield) appears to have a full-blown nervous breakdown. It goes from bad to worse as Chris finds out new and terrifying things about Rose’s family and their house and… that’s all you’re going to get out of me. The only other thing I’ll tell you is that whatever you think the truth is, you are wrong. It’s beautiful in its utterly insane unpredictability.
But goddamn, Get Out is brilliant. It’s impeccably crafted, rich with symbolism and clever cultural nods, never overplaying its hands, never letting its satirical stabs at stereotyping saturate the picture. Instead, it carefully stands at the edges, and simply lets you peer over the edge, breathlessly seeing for yourself the terrifying depths of Chris’s fears. Sure, it’s a horror tale built upon a Black man’s greatest fear, as well as one of society’s juiciest taboos — finding a White woman, and then the anxiety-inducing meeting of her family — but it’s also much more than that. It’s a much deeper dive into preconceived notions of Black men, into the venality of suburbia, the apparent futility of the Black struggle and an unflinching look at race relations, all masterfully written, sharply directed and fantastically acted. At a brisk 104 minutes, its pacing is just fast enough to keep you invested, while slow enough to be stressful as hell. By the time the weird, horrifying (but also slyly clever, tongue-in-cheek) climax rolls around, it becomes a literal edge-of-your-seat thrill.
Truth be told, I have nothing to criticize about Get Out. The performances are flawless, with special kudos to Betty Gabriel’s mesmerizing and terrifying performance as Georgina, and Kaluuya as the lead. But everyone acquits themselves well, complementing intricate, intelligent, wickedly humorous writing and nuanced, richly symbolic direction. A sparse yet chilling score pops up at just the right times, punctuating each terrifying moment with note perfection. Hell, Get Out is probably the most perfectly crafted horror film I’ve seen in a couple of decades, and its genius-level subversiveness and political savvy also makes it a blistering social critique. The GOP is going to hate this movie, and that’s just one more reason to see it. Do your best to see it in a crowded theater, because the crowd response will absolutely enrich your experience, and most of all, just enjoy. And White folks? Don’t be surprised if the Black people have their eye on you when the lights go on. We know you’re up to something.
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