Jordan Peele, of “Key and Peele” fame, throws his hat in the ring as writer/director of a new breed of horror, and it’s fantastic. Imagine if “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was thrown in the ring with “Cabin in the Woods” and “The Stepford Wives,” and they had a tussle. What emerges is a delightful film that reiterates some of the darkest thoughts and fears that Americans hold inside for fear that those around us will think we are, gasp, racist.
The benign racial tension that surrounds us in today’s American climate is the foundation for this freshly entertaining film. Black-and-white photographer (no pun intended) Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is living a remarkably normal city life. He has a dog, a girlfriend and a head on his shoulders that sets his character apart from most reluctant players in the horror genre.
When he’s set to spend the weekend in the country with his white girlfriend, the tension begins to simmer. When he meets them and notices some peculiar behavior, it boils, and then when the final act finally arrives, the pot is absolutely steaming.
Peele approaches this story from a different angle, bringing the racial tension to the forefront, as uncomfortable as it may be (and it is). Chris isn’t your stereotypical black man, however, and that’s what makes this experience unique. From an early interaction with police, to meeting the (presumably) New England socialites, there is a constant anticipation of injustice, and preconceived notions are simply dismantled on screen. It’s not that it doesn’t go in the direction you’re expecting; quite the opposite in fact. It’s that you are guiltily ashamed that you are thinking things will go a certain way, because that would be racist, right? Peele plays this angle delicately and beautifully.
Alison Williams, Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford play the wholesome Armitage family. I would have liked Alison’s character to be a bit sweeter and more innocent, played by someone a bit less sultry, but she does a fine job anyhow. Whitford, as Dean, the patriarch of the family, is spectacular. I love his work, and always have; he has a certain edge to his acting that is genuine and engaging. His attempts to bond with Chris using extremely subtle, yet noticeable nuanced tones and mannerisms is captivating and uncomfortable. Perfect.
Lil Rel Howery plays the comic relief, Rodney, in what was obviously a tip of the hat from Peele as the role was clearly written specifically, ripe and perfect, for himself. It was a good move to put a different actor in the film; Ben Affleck should take note that it’s a smart move sometimes. Rodney breaks the film’s tension periodically with spot-on humor that brings us back to reality.
The acting overall is very well done. Crying on command remains one of the more impressive feats to me, and there is an ample amount of tears shed in “Get Out.” It is a character study at heart, and unapologetically exploits our own ethnocentrism and perceptions of race and race relations.
I love a fresh story. I also love a good thriller, and much like last year’s “The Visit,” I was impressed by how the story was able to suck me in and thoroughly entertain me, in spite of the unrealistic premise.
With a reported budget of just $5 million, I would expect “Get Out” to be one of the more successful films of 2017, when all is said and done. It is definitely worth the price of admission.