In a movie landscape constantly filled with sequels, remakes, reboots, and adaptations, once in a while, something truly original will emerge and immediately stand-out from the pack. These films nowadays are released very few and far between; but when they are, it comes off as such a breath of fresh air. Now don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed the latest Marvel sequel or franchise reboot just as much as the next person, but a truly original film saves the medium from veering into mundanity. Enter Jordan Peele and his freshman effort, GET OUT.
Now what exactly is GET OUT? And by that I mean – is it a horror film? Yes. Is it a comedy? Yes. Is it a satire? Yes. So what we have here is a genre-defying effort that will have audiences reacting six ways to Sunday; and if you’ve been following the buzz surrounding this film, that is exactly what has been happening.
Here’s your setup: photographer Chris Washington (played by Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose Armitage (played by Allison Williams) are getting ready for a weekend trip to…Rose’s parents’ house. That’s right; it’s that important relationship milestone – meeting the parents. But as nervous as guys would normally be heading into this big weekend, Chris (who is African-American) is especially concerned after he learns that Rose (who is Caucasian) hasn’t told her parents that he’s black; Rose reassures him by telling him that it doesn’t matter – her parents are going to love him. When Christ finally meets Dean and Missy Armitage (played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener, respectively) it starts off innocently enough before awkwardly disintegrating little by little. In a way, it’s not really Dean and Missy’s fault – they are the epitome of white privilege, proudly boasting that they “would’ve voted for Obama a third time,” while not realizing how condescending they are coming across. Things are made worse at a party the Armitages hold in their yard the next day – their invited guests are just as bad, if not worse, at making small talk with Chris without going into the awkward zone (one of the guests asks Chris, “do you play golf? I know Tiger!”). But at this party, Chris begins to discover that, beneath the surface of this well-meaning, well-to-do white family, lies a secret that takes this innocent weekend trip into a dangerous and horrifying direction.
It’s a little difficult to really talk about GET OUT without going into spoiler territory – as a result, this review will be a little shorter than usual – so I will focus on its two shining aspects: the story and the actors.
What Jordan Peele has done with this script is something that transcends even conventional genre definitions. He has created a horror story that mixes concepts that are on completely different spectrums from each other; I have heard this film described by one critic as “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER meets ROSEMARY’S BABY meets THE STEPFORD WIVES.” Now those are films I would’ve never dreamed would be mentioned in the same sentence together, but that comparison really does accurately describe the aesthetics of GET OUT – and that allows the film to keep us guessing for most of the its runtime. Not only does Peele succeed in creating the proper horror atmosphere, he also introduces biting political and racial satire that keen-eyed viewers will notice rather quickly. While much of it is played for laughs (emphasizing the film’s comedic aspects), it speaks to a culture where these innocently patronizing actions can occur quite frequently. The way Peele takes that and shoves it back in the audience’s faces is what I find the most provocative about GET OUT, in that really isn’t afraid to “go there.” These are the types of films that stick in your head well passed the time you’ve left the theater. These are the films that spur and encourage conversations. After my fellow FORCED PERSPECTIVE co-host Adolfo sees the film, you can bet that he and I will be having a very long discussion about it (which you can most likely catch on our next episode, wink wink), because it’s these types of films that remind you why you love movies so much.
And personally, I don’t think enough is being said about the performances of both Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams. Their chemistry on-screen is essential to the effectiveness of the narrative, and both actors absolutely hit it out of the park. Kaluuya plays Chris as the fish out of water who slowly starts to wonder what exactly he has got himself into, while Williams plays Rose as the symbol of the progressive movement. There’s a scene early on in the film that establishes this – after they hit a deer on the way to the house, Rose calls the police, who arrives on the scene and questions her regarding the accident. Seemingly out of nowhere, the officer asks to see Chris’s I.D. This upsets Rose and she strongly confronts the officer as to why he is even questioning Chris, implying a racial bias. After being confronted, the officer backs off and sends the couple on their way. This scene allows the audience to get behind Rose as a character, which benefits the overall narrative and audience reaction once the film goes into its second half; it is brilliant writing made better by fantastic performances.
I leave you all with a piece of advice: see this film with a crowd. I had a huge crowd at the Saturday night screening I attended, and it was one of the best movie-watching experiences in recent memory. Sometimes it’s amazing just watching and observing how an audience reacts to a film; and if the current buzz on GET OUT is any indication, I’m sure there were many crowds just like mine.
Run, don’t walk, to see GET OUT in theaters while you still can. It is some of the most original work to come out of Hollywood in (dare I say) years, and it receives my highest recommendation.
2017 • 103 Minutes • United States
Color • English • Universal Pictures
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Stephen Root