GET OUT

It’s not uncommon for actors to foray into the world of directing. Some actors, such as Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard, became even more prolific when they were behind the camera. However, it’s a bit different when the director primarily comes from a sketch comedy background, like Jordan Peele. It’s even more interesting, considering his debut is a horror film. Not just any horror film, either: a satirical horror-comedy. Quite the bold project.

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is a black man who has been dating Rose (Allison Williams), a white woman, for the past few months. It’s the inevitable time to meet the parents, so the couple head up to Rose’s affluent hometown for the weekend. Upon arrival, Chris is immediately put off by Rose’s bizarre family and their black, zombie like housekeepers, signifying that something is clearly wrong in this predominantly white suburb. As things get weirder and freakier, Chris begins to realize he must Get Out as soon as possible.

Horror films are very difficult to get right. A lot of skill is required in building an unsettling atmosphere with a rising tension and rousing climax. Even more skill is required in making people laugh throughout all of the horror. Horror-comedy is one of my favorite genres simply because it’s so difficult to perfect, as you constantly need to make the viewer feel two completely polar opposite emotions, without one overbearing the other. Scream, The Cabin in the Woods, and other horror-comedies have used satire and subversion for the comedic edges of their machetes, and Peele uses satire to brilliant effect here. While some horror conventions, like the black guy dying first, or being completely inconsequential to the story, are satirized and turned on their head, it’s the commentary on racial relations where the film truly shines.

Peele is no stranger to satirizing race relations, as seen on his television show Key & Peele. A lot of the film’s humor is derived by how uncomfortable a black man can feels in the presence of white people, especially when white people desperately try to connect. “I would have voted for Obama for a third time, if I could have,” says Rose’s father, because he need to prove he’s totally not racist, you know? This social commentary elevates it above being your typical horror-comedy. Peele didn’t just want to make an effective thriller that’ll make you laugh and squirm, but he wanted to give it that extra, unique edge. He handles the subject matter masterfully, too, as he never gets preachy. The satire is really the glue that holds this bizarre concept together.

When you’re not laughing throughout Chris’ increasingly awkward encounters with white folks, you’re saying “What the hell?!” the next, as he wrestles with his sanity. Hypnosis, dying deer, creepy people randomly sprinting towards you. There’s never a moment where you’re never uneased, meticulously investigating every frame to figure out what’s going on and why things are happening. It’s surprising this is Peele’s first directorial effort, because he’s a master at building tension and paying it off either with either a creepy payoff, or a humorous cathartic release. He’s no slouch in the story department either, giving us a nice emotional core to the lead character that ties everything together. The script is carefully crafted, with every little twist and turn set up, but not completely obvious. While some of the twists were a bit predictable and a bit hamfistedly explained, I was still enthralled by the unique concept and constant sense of mystery. By the time everything has comes together, the tension is ratcheted up tenfold in a genuinely horrifying and tense conclusion. I had to take a deep breath when the end credits began.

Get Out is one of those rare films that I can recommend to anybody. It’s a tense thriller that keeps you guessing throughout, while being a hysterically a sharp satire of  United States culture. It will satisfy the gore hounds, as well as the psychological thriller fans who love going crazy alongside the characters. Even people who want nothing but a well told story with a strong central character won’t be disappointed. Those are all things that I love in a film, and Get Out simply has it all.

9.5/10

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