Aida Vucic | 21/04/2017
The pre-credits sequence sets the tone for Get Out, with the eerie tune of Flanagan and Allen’s Run, Rabbit, Run, providing the early warning alarm for those viewers with little appetite for horror to vacate the cinema – now.
Get Out follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African American photographer, and his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams), who are off to visit Rose’s family for the first time. Naturally, Chris queries Rose as to whether her parents are aware of his race, to which she reassures him of their openness and support for Obama (as though that automatically means you’re not racist). On the surface, the family indeed appear supportive, even if their sole servants are a hostile groundskeeper (Marcus Henderson) and an unnerving maid (Betty Gabriel), both of whom are of African American descent.
It’s not long before it’s apparent to Chris that something’s amiss. If it’s not the heightened tension in the air between each encounter with each respective family member or the involuntary hypnosis induced by Rose’s mother (played by Catherine Keener) that has striking similarities to scenes from Being John Malkovich, it’s the bizarre garden party, where each attendee seems unnervingly interested in Chris.
By no means will Get Out be a contender as the scariest movie created. It does, however, possess the dual honour of being the directorial debut of Jordan Peele and one of the boldest films produced in recent years. Peele displays a clear mastery of genre melding, shifting from comedy and horror without missing a beat. If there were something to fault it would be in this transition, as the film is neither as funny as it could be, nor as frightening as it could be. One suspects that that wasn’t Peele’s intention though. Get Out represents much more than anything a straight horror or comedy could - it feels utterly fresh in a genre that is so stale. Peele should be commended for his efforts, because in the search for originality he’s touched on some truths about prejudice and intersectionality.
The cast delivers a consistently good performance, with each character offering something novel. Daniel Kaluuya cements his place as one of the most exciting young talents in the industry, with a performance that is truly outstanding. Watching him slowly realise he is being put under hypnosis is remarkably affecting. Allison Williams is also good as Rose, providing an interesting counterpoint to her most well known role as Marnie in Girls. Bradley Whitford is inspired casting as Rose’s turtleneck wearing, almost too accepting father. Special mention should be made to stand-out, LilRel Howery. As Chris’ sceptical best friend, he serves as the comic relief of the film, and seems poised to be an instant star. He is funny, relatable and a reliable audience proxy. Also impressive is Betty Gabriel, whose brief screen time is enough to haunt your dreams for the next week.
Get Out has been praised highly, and deservedly so. Despite strong performances, excellent pacing and a chilling score, it is Jordan Peele who is the star of the show. As a first time director, he astounds with his ability to meld compelling racial and political commentary with an entertaining story in a way that is never exclusionary for viewers. His ability to manage tonal shift between humour and comedy is as good as any director with ten times his experience. Get Out is a stunning picture that deserves all the attention it, and it’s director, are getting.