There’s no premise more horrifying than meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. The instant classic Get Out, of 100% Rotten Tomatoes fame, takes the premise a few steps further, by adding race to the equation, giving a few spins to horror tropes and delivering precise humour moments to release the tension. All this without flaw. And that’s why we’re finding so hard to believe this is the first feature for director Jordan Peele. Other directors only got to this level of mastery after years behind the camera – but Peele, armed only with his cinephilia and funny sketches experience, makes it look too easy.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is going up to the lake for the weekend, to meet 5-month girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents. As a black man, he feels particularly uncomfortable about it, though Rose assures him her oh-so-white family isn’t racist. But when Chris gets there, everyone is a bit too weird – from Rose’s parents to their black servants, particularly maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel). Torn between his instincts (and friend Rod’s (LilRel Howery) warnings about white people and their desire to have black sex slaves) and his love for Rose, Chris soon finds out he may be in bigger trouble than he ever imagined.
An intelligent horror-thriller, Get Out keeps playing with the audience expectations, from the genius beginning (spoiler: the first victim is not a blonde, large-breasted girl) up to the ending, where an early, discreet set-up finally pays off, delivering us from the unsatisfying Shakespearean ending (think Othello, but with guns). Everything in the script has a function, and there are layers after layers even in things as simple as cotton. Peele presents us with racial stereotypes one after another – but instead of open racism, we get the subtle, pernicious kind, and we can’t help but laugh at the awkwardness of it all.
Though the story isn’t particularly original (we have seem the premise explored in lesser films), its delivery and the superb acting from everyone on screen makes it great – from Kaluuya to Williams (who seems determined to use and expand on her character in Girls), to the supporting actors, particularly Howery (who acts as an audience surrogate, and is the most welcomed TSA agent since the beginning of times), and Gabriel (her “confrontation” scene with Chris, shot in close-up, shows how well a great actress can play two different characters at the same time). All this delivered with excellent timing (both for tension and comic moments), masterful exposition delivery, breathtaking cinematography (think Under the Skin worthy), and a powerful anti-racism message that stays with you well after watching the film.
If Get Out made a sin, is it raised the bar incredibly high for future genre movies – but, in the other hand, it just reminded us it is possible to use genre for more than pure entertainment value. Perfect popcorn + art film movie, better get in while you have a chance to watch it in the big screen.
Get Out is in UK cinemas from 17th March 2017.