Amid a plethora of gimmick driven horror and uninspired, hollow scare tactics, it’s difficult to make a quality horror film that gets beneath the surface. Despite its blatant social commentary on race relations in the United States, Get Out captures a rare and often elusive kind of fear.
Jordan Peele, known mostly for his comedy (via Key & Peele), took on a vastly different and more challenging project for his sophomore effort. His keen nose for humor is evident throughout the film, bolstering the more disturbing elements with a more tangible and authentic approach to the genre, only unattainable through a lifetime of fanhood. The plot rolls along at a steady pace without any real lulls, gradually picking up steam and intensity… like a car rolling downhill only to find out the brakes aren’t working once the fear kicks in. My heart was legitimately thumping for a while and I haven’t felt that in a long time.
This movie could have easily been a disaster, so Peele deserves credit for avoiding that. The main plot is obvious so delivering the goods in a believable manner was the primary objective. Although it succeeds in that department, the end overreaches for no apparent reason. It seemed like Peele wanted to give the audience something they weren’t expecting, but it felt forced and out of place. Up until that moment, the film was working very well on just about every level. All things considered, the “twist” (for lack of a better term) was just a bump in the road and not a total derailment.
The film’s biggest strength was its main character, Chris Washington, played to a tee by Daniel Kaluuya. He’s had some supporting roles in Sicario and Kick-Ass 2, but his biggest role came as the lead in an episode of Black Mirror. In that episode, Fifteen Million Merits, he displays many of the qualities that landed him this part. Charismatic, funny enough to pull off the dialogue, emotionally engaging and mainly, just likeable…or at the very least sympathetic. I can’t remember the last time I actually pulled for a character as strongly as I did in this instance. There are much more universal themes, both personal and social, that go beyond race and connect to the deepest part of ourselves. Kaluuya shows a tremendous amount of range as his character is put through increasingly strenuous circumstances. He’s sure to become a much more familiar face in Hollywood after this.
Terri Taylor did a excellent job casting. The support around Kaluuya is the perfect complement of veteran stability and young talent. Allison Williams gives a solid performance opposite him playing the girlfriend Rose. Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford are the perfect blend of unassuming paternal blandness and menacing ambiguity as her parents, Missy and Dean. Caleb Landry Jones brought a backwoods level of unsettling creepiness to the table, a far departure from his breakout role as Banshee in X-Men: First Class. LilRel Howery was one of, if not, the most enjoyable character in the film. He plays Rod, Chris’s best friend, a TSA agent who embodies all the humor and attitude which gives the film its pulse.
This movie isn’t rich in stunning visuals or exceptional camera work, but it’s well shot and has strong production value. Toby Oliver brought extensive horror experience to the project as cinematographer and did some excellent close-up work, capturing a lot of the emotions going on in the eyes of these characters. Michael Abels composed a nice original score considering it was his first film project, delivering a steadily paced and ominous tone that ramps up as the story progresses.
Wrapping up its second weekend at the box office, it has generated about $80-million with a production value of less than $5-million. A monstrous success and rightfully so, the film speaks to broad audience. Only the release of Logan unseated it from the top spot at the box office. Get Out will continue to do well but will face much more competition as March is loaded with big releases.
Recommendation: For fans of the horror genre, this is a must see movie. Everyone else can still enjoy this movie as a psychological and social thriller. It’s too mature for young kids or family outings but teens can handle the subject matter and plot.