Part of me thinks that 'Get Out' was made a year too late. Its nuanced exploration of inherent racism and the hypocrisy of the liberal elite makes it more suited to less turbulent times. Indeed, as Peele has noted himself, the Obama presidency was a key touch-point - it takes the idea that racism is now some past memory for rich, left-wing Americans; and splatters it all over the walls. That said, in a year where the president of the States is banning Muslims from entering the country and calling Mexicans rapists, the racial tensions in America are pretty damn clear...
|Why is he crying?|
Not only does 'Get Out' constitute Peele's first directorial effort; it also constitutes his first horror movie. Known as one half of always funny and occasionally hilarious iconic sketch duo 'Key and Peele', and the star/writer of the mostly underwhelming 'Keanu'; horror seems like a weird choice for the comedian. But, mind you, both genres focus on provoking a visceral reaction - so, perhaps, it's a natural fit.
We begin on a fantastic one-take sequence, which can only be best described as 'Halloween' meets the shooting of Trayvon Martin - accompanied with Flanagan and Allen's 'Run Rabbit Run'. This is followed by a slightly surreal and sumptuous credits sequence - set to Childish Gambino's 'Redbone'. A bold start to a horror movie for sure. And, with that, we're in.
|This is still a horror movie|
That doesn't happen.
Approaching the Candieland-esque mansion, the pair encounter a racist policeman - the first of two incredibly uneasy encounters with law-enforcement which I believe provide the two standout moments of societal anger in the movie. However, the feds are the least of Chris's worries...
Indeed, from the arrival of the couple into the friendly family home onwards, it feels like there's something more sinister at play - especially with the two black servants that work for the Armitage's estate - Walter (Marcus Henderson) and Georgina (Betty Gabriel) - acting bizzare towards Chris. Lets just say that things get a lot weirder.
That's all that needs to be said about the plot - but what begs to be discussed is the remarkable way in which Peele explores race relations throughout the movie - and genuinely provokes thoughtful discussion in viewers after the film is done. In the initial sequences with Rose's family, there are honest and non-exaggerated examples of some sort of inherent prejudice (Rose's dad calls Chris 'my man', gives him a lecture about how much he loves Jesse Owens, and informs him that he'd have 'voted for Obama for a third term' ). It's cringe-inducing, especially in the UK where the history of racial tension isn't so ingrained as the US (a fact which has caused an unnecessary conflict between Samuel L Jackson and Daniel Kaluuya about whether British actors are suited to playing black Americans). There are uncomfortable silences, and the seeming need for justifications everywhere - Dean (the dad) feels the need to explain the families hiring of black servants where, presumably, he wouldn't have felt the need to before.
A lot has been made out of the appearance of an Asian character in the movie that I'm sure you can google in your own time (after having seen it). And, personally, I see the conclusions that Peele makes with this statement as justified. His film focuses on the subjugation of African-Americans in the US; and implicating other minority groups in this particular subjugation seems correct, no? In other words, why are people who are perfectly OK to see white culture criticized not OK with seeing Asian culture criticized?
|Something ain't quite right...|
No matter what people say to you or add on the bottom of reviews for a bonus tidbit, do not believe claims that 'Get Out' is 'terrifying', or indeed 'scary' for one second. This just isn't that type of movie: it's more of what Peele calls a 'social thriller'. There are 2 or 3 cheap-ass Blumhouse scares - which don't really need to be in the movie; and there is a tension-filled scene involving walking round a darkened house, but that's about it. It feels a lot more like there's a 'Shutter Island' chilling vibe that cedes often to riveting suspense and tension, but very rarely outright horror. It may be the Blumhouse promotional materials curse, but the advertising is one or two tones off - 'Get Out' may be a psychological thriller of the 1st degree, and an excellent horror movie, but if you're looking solely for scares then you'd be best looking elsewhere.
|The mysterious hosts...|
Peele also endows his effort with an idiosyncratic and auteurish visual style - switching from Kubrick to Carpenter by way of Jonathan Glazer; and follows this up with an impressive sound design - the music of 2017 clashes with early 20th century pieces (suggesting an age-old problem running through society). It's truly an all round performer.
This is the best horror film since 'It Follows', which I'm sure you'll remember also caused quite a stir upon release. It's creepy as hell, funny as fuck, and beautiful to look at. It has a perfect sound design, tempo, and color palette. But it also has something to important to say and discuss as well. Indeed, a subject which it discusses to great length, and in one of the most thought provoking ways possible. As far as Peele is concerned, as long as this goes on, African-Americans are always trapped in 'the sunken place'. 'Get Out' makes other horror movies look boring in comparison.
|'Get Out' gets 5 stars!|