Writer-director Jordan Peele, the comedic performer from TV’s Key & Peele, and the adorable, funny cat movie Keanu, delivers a huge cinematic surprise with Get Out, a twisted, darkly satiric, nasty little horror film that pulls no punches when it comes to race relations and dating.
Peele has cited Night of the Living Dead and The Stepford Wives as inspiration for this journey to the dark side of his creative soul. Those films’ influences are detectable, and I’d say you could throw in a pinch of Rosemary’s Baby with a side of Being John Malkovich as well.
Two of the hardest things to accomplish with a movie are to make people laugh and get them legitimately scared. Get Out manages to do both for its entire running time. Peele takes taboo subjects and stereotypes and doesn’t let his pen get restricted by fear of offending anybody. This is an appropriately evil, scabrous movie.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American man, is a little nervous. He’s going to visit the parents of Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), his white girlfriend. Rose is relaxed about the trip, but Chris is a little anxious. His anxiety proves justified shortly into the trip.
Upon arrival at her large estate, her parents like Chris. They really, really like Chris. Actually, parents Missy and Dean (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) like Chris at a level that’s a bit unsettling. Chris shrugs it off at first, as does Allison, but strange things start happening.
For starters, Walter and Georgina (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel) two black people employed by the Armitages, have personalities that are a little off. They have vacant stares. They are overly polite, and Georgina does that thing where you cry projectile tears while smiling and carrying on a conversation. Something is definitely wrong with them.
Chris smokes, and Missy doesn’t like that. When he gets up to sneak a cigarette in the middle of the night, Missy offers to hypnotize him. Chris is reluctant, but eventually finds himself under Missy’s anti-smoking spell. Or does the spell cover more than just smoking? I won’t give away too much more other than to say Missy and Dean are not what they seem, and I think this movie will put a lot of people off using hypnosis as a means of quitting smoking.
Kaluuya (Sicario) delivers a performance that should put him on the map for a long time to come. The role requires him to go to many extremes, using his abilities for both comic timing and being paralyzed with fear. His big scene with Missy is an acting powerhouse, with Keener setting the pace. It’s going to go down as one of the year’s most memorable scenes.
Williams absolutely nails her part. The movie simply wouldn’t work if Williams delivered one wrong note with her work. What she does here is a deft display on how to act in a horror movie. She will knock you on your ass. Providing solid, pure comic relief, LilRel Howery is the perfect goofball as Rod, Chris’s TSA friend who thinks his buddy has been sold into sex slavery.
Stephen Root has a couple of memorable scenes playing a blind man, something he did so memorably in O Brother, Where Art Thou? His character is among the horde that shows up for the family gathering. Also in attendance: Andrew (Lakeith Stanfield), another oddly behaved black man who really hates it when you take his picture.
Whether it’s trying to make you laugh, make you squirm, or just plain freak you out, Get Out is a victory on all the horror and comedy fronts. Peele demonstrates a keen sense of what is scary/funny and has also made one of the better-looking horror films of recent years.
Oh, and it should be pointed out, this is his first movie as a director. When it comes to daring, risk-taking feature film directing debuts, Peele moves toward the top of the list. This is one of those times where a groundbreaking piece of work just comes out of nowhere and bedazzles. Don’t miss it.