For you KEY & PEELE fans out there, you might be surprised to know that Jordan Peele wrote and directed the movie you’re about to read the review for… or then again maybe not. GET OUT is a psychological horror thriller with a racism slant, and some smart if sometimes uncomfortable humor. It plays like a combination of THE STEPFORD WIVES, THE WICKER MAN, and in a weird way GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, and Catherine Keener. In many ways this seems quite timely considering the current racial controversy in the news with police and the black community, but done in a very brilliant and subtle way.
Chris Washington (Kaluuya) is a successful young photographer who happens to be black. His girlfriend Rose Armitage (Williams) happens to be white. She’s planned a trip for him to meet her family, and he’s concerned that Rose hasn’t told her folks about his skin color. She assures him it’s nothing to worry about. On their way to the Armitage country home, they accidentally hit a deer, which leads to a police car coming out to file a report. As the officer asks for Chris to show identification, Rose becomes very defensive pointing out he wasn’t even driving – it’s the first real sign that this area may have some racial issues to work on. After arriving at her childhood home, Rose introduces her boyfriend to her parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener), who seem like nice enough people. Dean is a neurosurgeon and Missy is a psychiatrist who specializes in curing people through hypnosis. Chris also meets their two “servants”, groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) and their maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel), who both happen to be black. Even Dean addresses this with Chris as he feels it might be off-putting. That night at dinner, Chris also meets Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), who seems overly intense and obsessed with martial arts. It turns out that the weekend of this visit, the Armitages are hosting a traditional community get together in their home, and Chris and Rose must meet the locals. Immediately Chris notices that pretty much everyone is white and mostly older in age. As strange things keep happening around him, Chris tries to take it in stride, and Rose tries to reassure him everything is okay… but as you can probably guess, it’s really, really not.
We’ve seen these kinds of horror films before, and the basic concept is nothing terribly new, but what Jordan Peele does with GET OUT is incredibly clever. He’s crafted a horror movie for modern day sensibilities that audiences can laugh along with, jump when necessary, and in many ways relate to in a very grounded way. And sure, there’s racial overtones throughout the story, but it never feels manipulative or overplayed. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, Peele throws a curve ball at you to keep everyone guessing. This is classic horror tropes done in the smartest way possible, and the end result is a cinematic treat. Daniel Kaluuya is excellent as Chris, the cautious but just ordinary enough leading man that everyone in the audience can relate with. He is our eyes for this journey, and plays a fine balance of fear and sympathy when needed. It’s a great performance, and sure to make him a star. Allison Williams is also good as the leading lady who may or may not realize some of the stranger things happening in her family home. The romance between the two leads feels real and natural, I really bought into them as a couple. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are excellent as the odd parents of Rose, exhibiting just the right amount of eccentric behavior while also coming across as weirdly likable in that un-hip mom and dad concept. One of the shining stars among the cast is LilRel Howery as Chris and Rose’s friend Rod, a TSA worker who is frequently on the phone with Chris getting more and more nervous for him. Howery takes the motivation out of the rowdy audience members who might yell at the screen, as HE is that person within the narrative, and adds highly effective comic relief to the story whenever things start getting a little heavy.
It’s hard to talk about GET OUT without risk of giving away major spoilers, but let’s just say when it works it really works. Peele has honestly changed the horror game moving forward, delivering a stellar example for others to follow. This movie is exactly what the genre needed to go to the next level and escape stagnation. It’s not often I see a film like this that really finds new ways to surprise me, but there’s a final act reveal in here that’s absolute genius and solidifies this production as a horror masterpiece. See it with an audience, see it with friends, but make sure you see it while it’s in theaters – it deserves to be embraced as a cinematic event. The moviegoing bar has been raised, and we’re all benefiting from it… and it’s only February!