It would be remiss to describe Get Out as simply a horror-comedy, though an even greater disservice to the film to betray the plot in any significant detail.
The directorial debut from Jordan Peele, Get Out’s thankfully abstruse trailer might give you the idea that it hails from the two usually divergent if strikingly similar genres or in some senses from the iconic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Even beyond this, its spectacular achievements in establishing dramatic hooks and emphasis on drawing masterful performances from its talented cast to propel such rather than relying on elaborate set-pieces or gory, stylistic flourishes recommends the film all on its own.
Suffice to say, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is a little apprehensive that his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Alison Williams) hasn’t told her parents that her boyfriend’s black. Travelling to their estate to meet her folks, Chris finds out that Rose’s parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) have put out all the stops for him, though there’s something a little odd about their friends, not to mention their gardener, and maid (Betty Gabriel).
Risking making it a taboo unto itself, Get Out successfully manages to depict both overt and insidious, often unacknowledged forms of racism in a way dually compelling and overwhelmingly entertaining that would be barely achievable but for the film’s comedic domain and its Director/Writer’s hilarious wit. A discomforting garden party attended by Chris, his trepidation at making the right impression before his prospective in-laws and their friends a largely identifiable challenge, is duly compounded by the purportedly innocuous and supremely awkward questions posed to him and assurances that Tiger Woods is A-Ok which go so far, in the best of horror tradition, to set up what’s really going on beneath the surface.
More commendable still are the completely casual and hugely consequential moments throughout that blindside you until their frightening relevance becomes clear. A random encounter with a cop, a tour of the house or someone looking in a mirror may have a run-of-the-mill air about them but Peele’s mastery in setting up Get Out’s denouements is not often seen in the genre. A character getting some exercise, for instance, might not seem so unusual until the action’s devastatingly dark implications become clear – itself not even the most shocking reveal in the film.
Above all, the performances drive Get Out to the extent that there is never a need for blood to gush from an elevator or the like – with Gabriel’s quietly discomforting presence playing well off the eerily charming, quizzically imperceptible turns from the Armitage family that will keep you guessing, among them Caleb Landry Jones as Rose’s brother Jeremy.
As well staged as it is cast, for a first-time feature director Peele has done an outstanding job, with the prospect of a repeat viewing as exciting as the promise of whatever he does next.
Get Out screened as part of the Monster Fest Travelling Sideshow