A handsome black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) travels to upstate New York with his statuesque white girlfriend (Allison Williams) to stay with her parents (Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford) and meet their middle-class friends. He endures a series of awkward and condescending remarks, and begins to suspect his hosts have ill intentions toward him. Saying that out loud sounds awkward, but that is the plot of this from Jordan Peele, sketch comedian of Key and Peele. We begin with the long-standing social ritual of a girl bringing her boyfriend home to meet the parents for the first time. It’s uncomfortable in most films, but that subverts some other tensions, and vibes that the main character feels. It is about identity the loss of it, through the guise of a spooky fun ride.
Don’t look at the trailers for Get Out. I believe going in “blind” is the best way to see it, and word of mouth, and hype not withstanding, I enjoyed the film for what it is. Peele accomplishes this by stretching a sketch-length concept into a feature film, with an exaggerated scenario to comment on real social tensions. And for the most part, it works.
With the setup in place, and some clever foreshadowing, the movie gets uncomfortable, but has plenty of tension relieving laughter to give the audience a chance to regain composure. Race is hardly explicitly mentioned in horror or thriller films. When it is, the racial and ethnic “others” are usually cast as the monster or one of the first victims. In many horror films, the young black character is usually the first to die. Peele and the film carefully construct some genre cliches and invert, flip or downright poke fun at some of them. Although, I will say this leans more towards the thriller genre. The horror only comes in the last few minutes, and that is merely because of the bloody violence.
The movie works because of its two solid performances from Kaluuya and Williams, and the supporting cast as well. Peele expertly creates tension. This creates the right amount of mystery so that you can’t predict what is about to happen for the majority of the film’s run time.
The final reveal is a little on the goofy side, and some of those sketch comedy moments pierce through the cleverly crafted thrills. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s say there are a couple of awkward moments that might not have been meant to have been funny, but were. That doesn’t take away from the film’s merits at all. In fact, I feel this film is intentionally made for repeat viewings, (Think David Fincher’s “Sleight of Hand”.)
The movie is doing very well, and I think much of the business is from people coming back, knowing the reveal and seeing how it builds the second time. If you can put the social commentary in the background, and ignore the hype, you can simply enjoy the film.