Get Out’s end game isn't so apparent until it reaches the halfway point, however – it starts as what looks like a modern take on Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967), unraveling from there. In the movie, we are placed into what should be a normal, if initially tense, situation: After dating for a few months, a young woman decides to take her boyfriend back home to meet her parents.
The girl is Rose (Allison Williams), who looks like the earthier alternative to one of Aaron Spelling’s angels. The guy is Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an easy-going photographer. The plan to meet Mom (Catherine Keener) and Pop’s (Bradley Whitford) been considered for some time now, but it’s been avoided in part to the unattractiveness of surefire uncomfortability and in part to Rose’s fears that her parents might react inappropriately to the fact that her boyfriend is black.
They might be liberal, but the likelihood of a parade of microaggressions is imminent. Who knows if Dad’s going to brag about the fact that he would’ve voted for Barack Obama if he’d opted for a third term? What if Mom acts surprised that Chris is so well-spoken?
But Rose and Chris cannot escape the inevitable: though it’s only been four months, their relationship has become unusually serious. Knowing they’ll have to face the truth at some point, both throw caution to the wind and pack their bags, heading out to Rose’s country home and crossing their fingers for a successful weekend. (Their hitting of a deer en route is an obvious, yet effective, foreshadowing that such hopes will probably not come true.)
Upon arrival, most of Rose’s fears are confirmed. Dad’s Obama remark comes out of the woodwork just minutes after walking into the foyer, and Mom just can’t seem to say the right thing no matter how hard she tries. But Chris is sparing – forgiving is easy when the girl’s as good as Rose – and the clan gets along reasonably well. But Chris can’t help but be unsettled by the family’s usage of robotically obedient black servants, or the way Rose’s apologies for her parents’ cringe-worthy remarks are almost theatrically frantic.
The situation grows progressively disconcerting, coming to a head when Chris begins to realize that what should have been an innocent meeting of the folks actually might have a sinister underbelly. We needn’t get into details for the sake of preserving the De Palmian twists Peele so neatly places within the movie’s fast-paced running time, but let’s just say that the cliché of things not being at all what they seem is melodramatically pronounced here. Horrifically so.
Throughout its 104 minutes, Get Out proves itself an adept genre hybrid. In some moments, it’s an acerbic black comedy, reminiscent of a particularly good Luis Buñuel flick when the socializing gets extra uncomfortable and reminiscent of a Key and Peele (2012-'15) sketch whenever Chris’ loud-mouthed best friend Rod (Milton Howery, uproarious) shows up.
In others, it’s the best horror movie of the decade since 2015’s It Follows. It takes the greatest components of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), and, of course, The Stepford Wives (1975), stirs in sharpened social commentary (with fingers especially pointed at the ubiquity of microaggressions, the exploitation of black bodies, the damages inflicted by superficial white liberalism, the inherent social expectation to whitewash one’s racial identity, and more), and thus makes for the genre’s brainiest entry in decades. The terrors are just as effectively realized as the array of allegories; this is the sort of movie you want to discuss for hours upon end immediately following viewing.
Bolstered by an exceptional cast (Kaluuya’s a revelation, cool and calm until he can’t be anymore; Williams gets the best character twist since Cécile De France in 2003’s High Tension), Get Out is as much a thinking man’s horror movie as it is one of the year’s utmost highlights. Its ending might be too extravagant for my tastes – its Grand Guignol spectacle doesn’t line up with the rest of the movie’s cutting, understated precision – but that hardly matters when you realize that a number of the horrors depicted here are not at all ones that could only happen in a movie. A-
Caleb Landry Jones
1 Hr., 44 Mins.
Get Out December 23, 2017
he comedian Jordan Peele’s feature filmmaking debut, Get Out (2017), is something of a riff on Bryan Forbes’ The Stepford Wives (1975). Here, though, we're neither concerned with the imbalanced gender roles of 40 years ago nor the finding of pretty young things being forced into the submissive role of the dutiful hausfraus. Instead, we watch as black Americans are stripped of their racial identities and exploited for their bodies for nefarious purposes.