Movie Name: Get Out
Studio: Blumhouse Productions
Release Date(s): January 24, 2017 (Sundance)/February 24, 2017 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is nervous. He’s about to go with his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her parents, but he’s worried that the fact he’s black could pose a problem for the WASP-y family…something his friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) warns him about. Chris finds himself welcomed by Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Cahterine Keener) though Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is more standoffish. When Chris meets their “servants” Walter (Marcus Henderson) and Georgina (Betty Gabriel), Chris begins to suspect there is something else happening at the Armitage home…and he’s about to be sucked into the horror.
Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out is a horror-comedy thriller with a distinct look at culture issues. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was released to critical acclaim and a strong box office for the low budget film.
Get Out is really timely. It is about fear…race fears for African-Americans and how Caucasians perceive the situation, but in a clever crafted story that is more complex that being a minority version of The Stepford Wives, it kind of turns those fears on their side. Due to the plotline of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.
There is an awkwardness in being an “outsider”. Not only is Chris an African-American in the whitest of white settings, he is also forced to be a representative of his race. This leads to overcompensation by everyone to “not be racist” which ends up being racist, but Chris also gets the classic “what do you think” when people are really asking “what do all black people think” about ____________. I had a little of that type of experience being an American abroad and when people would start asking about guns, safety, laws, etc. in , and it leaves you trying to not speak for everyone but also realizing that the listeners will go home with the idea that it does represent everyone’s opinions.
However, the movie pulls a switch in the middle of the film. To me, it was obvious that Rose was part of the bad guys (it wouldn’t have made sense if the servants were “hypnotized slaves” and she didn’t know this). The brain transplant storyline changes everything about the race relations storyline. It appears that the white people want to subject the black people for most of the film, but it turns out that they essentially want to be them. Chris saw the whole situation wrong and it almost cost him…it has a Twilight Zone/Night Gallery feel to the story when this switch occurs and it is a good thing that makes you want to rewatch the movie for the nuances in the script that reveal this (like the gardener running because Dean’s father was an Olympic runner and Georgina always looking at herself in the mirror).
The cast is also good. Daniel Kaluuya did receive some criticism from those who thought an American actor should have been cast for the role since it is a very American story, but he does give heart to the role. Everyone else is also strong from the creepy brain surgery victims Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson, and LaKeith Stanfield to Keener and Whitford and their friends. I felt Caleb Landry Jones was potentially the weakest link in the film because his character was too over-the-top, but he still worked for the part.
The movie also looks great for an extremely low budget. It doesn’t have to wow visually with hypnosis so the simplistic “sunken space” works. Peele does play up the writing and does provide some great jumps.
Get Out didn’t end as it was intended, and it kind of feels like that…but it also is not a bad thing to get the conversation going. While watching, I imagined this horrible Night of the Living Dead ending where Chris is blamed for all the deaths and potentially jailed or killed (that was the original plan), but Peele realized recent events needed a happy ending…which actually does work. The best way to explore race issues is talking about it. Get Out provides a nice forum for talking about it by pointing out some of the ridiculous nature of these fears for both sides of the issue with a tongue-in-cheek kind of sense of humor which still manages to scare. Though the movie is a success, I hope that people don’t try to milk it into a series…Peele fortunately seems smarter than that so hopefully it will stand as its own fun horror thriller.