Get Out 2017
Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
February 24, 2017
Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Bradley Whitford
Jordan Peele is best known as half of the comic duo Key and Peele, but all that could easily change following the release of his debut feature film Get Out. The comedian proves himself an unusually talented fear practitioner with a huge future in horror movies. At the time of this posting, Get Out is maintaining a 100% Freshness Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and I’m thrilled to add my voice to the chorus of accolades the film is garnering. While it wears a political and social ideology on its sleeve, Get Out is compelling, engrossing, and harrowing by any measure—so don’t even think about writing it off as preachy.
Official Synopsis: Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
Related Article: Jordan Peele Says These Two Films Most Influenced “Get Out”
When it comes to discussing Get Out, race will always be the Black Elephant in the room—as it should be. It’s a film written and directed by an African American about an African-American character who is out of his element in a predominately white society. And Peele wants race to be front and center; the message of this film always remains close to the surface with nothing inserted symbolically or through heavy-handed or academic subtext. And while this encourages conversations regarding race in our 21st Century society, the film’s scope hardly demands it. Get Out can’t be pigeon-holed that easily.
The set-up is twofold: To make it clear that this is an attempt to convey an African American experience, and to show how universal the underlying tensions presented actually are. Yes, Get Out is the story of a Black man forced to deal with his race, but that’s always in the context of a larger horror: Meeting a partner’s parents for the very first time. This, as much as fear of racial intimidation, is the emotional core of the film, and it’s something just about everyone can relate to.
Meeting your partner’s family for the first time is terrifying for a variety of reasons, most completely divorced of any connection to race. It’s a symbolic act of commitment, suggesting a prolonged future, something quite unnerving for the relationship phobic. It’s also an audition, leaving many to feel on display, judged. It’s enough to rattle even the coolest cucumbers. What if the family doesn’t think you’re good enough?
Meeting a partner’s family can be difficult if you have a strained relationship with your own family; a large family can intimidate someone from a small family; someone from a poor family could feel extra pressure if their partner comes from wealth, just as someone who comes from privilege could be unfairly condemned by members of the working class. What if you’re a Republican and your partner comes from a clan of Democrats? A gap in educational status can be stressful, as can religious or spiritual differences. So in a sense, Get Out could be described as a horror version of Meet the Fockers.
If you’re afraid that last metaphor sums everything up, let me assure you it doesn’t. In addition to all of this, Get Out is the story of a man coming to grips with his tragic past, all under the sinister manipulations of an experimental psychologist. Just like race, a person’s past is inescapable; denying this fact only leads to additional pain and potential self-loathing.
Get Out is also, start to finish, a buddy flick—and a genuine one at that. How often do protagonists of horror films disappear while on vacation only to be seemingly forgotten by the outside world? There’s a friendship in this film that’s both refreshing and heartening. I’m sure everyone wishes they had a pal like Rod Williams (played with comic perfection by LilRel Howery), someone who will actual notice if we don’t come home after that long weekend camping/skiing/road-tripping—someone who will do his best to come to our rescue.
The cast is phenomenal all around, but lead Daniel Kaluuya deserves the most praise for his absolutely arresting performance. He emotes fear, anguish, and rage in a way that transcends race, speaking a universal language of horror all true fans will recognize. Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford have great chemistry as parents who may be out touch—or possibly something else completely nefarious. Allison Williams is unfaltering as Rose, the lead’s girlfriend with an uncanny sense of empathy, despite her sheltered upbringing. It was awesome to see comic actor Stephen Root in a rare horror performance and volatile ginger Caleb Landry Jones brings his signature brand of barely contained chaos.
No doubt some will say the film has pacing issues, but if you watch carefully, every time the action slows (like during a family dinner) major drama ensues; this is an integral component of Get Out’s story building and I’d encourage viewers to pay attention to the seeds Peele plants throughout. My only real complaint is that a cool clip seen in the trailer where Kaluuya encounters a reanimated deer’s skeleton isn’t actually part of the film. It’s a shame because the deer is a major trigger for the character’s impending psychological throw-down and a poignant metaphor for loss.
As for that immaculate Rotten Tomatoes score, no one really expects that to last. When initial excitement fades, Get Out’s ranking will equalize, giving the it a more accurate place in film and horror history. I’m not suggesting that it’s anything less than fantastic, but keep in mind that The Exorcist only has a 86% Freshness Ranking and, as good as Peele’s film is, it’s not as nuanced or profoundly Earth-shattering as The Exorcist.
Bottom Line: Get Out is instantly captivating and deeply intelligent while remaining deliciously digestible at every moment. It may not be as scary as some reviews would have you believe, but the suspense is palpable and the thrills are top-notch. I can state with assurance that Get Out is the first truly excellent horror movie of 2017 and that Jordan Peele has a bright future in horror, should he choose to plumb our beloved genre further. I hope he will!