A twenty-something African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s family home and soon starts to feel that something is not quite right.
Get Out wastes no time in getting going and begins immediately as Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) discuss the audience-anticipated visit to her parents’ home. There is no needless build-up or insight into their relationship. They aren’t painted as a perfect couple, one with quirks and little jokes that encourage the audience to believe in their romance. We’re not supposed to be devastated when everything is less than rosy for these young lovers. Get Out is not a tale of young love and heart break with an eventually rekindled relationship at the end; it’s a horror film. We’re here for the scares and, boy, does Get Out delivers a fair few.
Get Out is perhaps most impressive for its scares that are so cleverly crafted and woven into moments of subtle amusement. Writer-director Jordan Peele’s lengthy career in comedy is put to good use as he carefully treads the thin line between horror and hilarity. Get Out is about celebrating differences, not fearing them. Aside from the film’s more obvious concerns with race, there is an appreciation and understanding of two very different genres. Sure, this is not the first film to dabble in both horror and comedy but it is certainly one of the most intelligent and credible.
The culmination of these two genres is phsyicalised in Chris who is impeccably portrayed by Kaluuya, as his facial expressions give us an insight into his mind that is torn between finding the whole experience pretty damn hilarious, but downright disturbing at the same time. The audience, too, will struggle with this conundrum; do we find it funny that Georgina, the all-white family’s supposed housekeeper, has a permanent grin plastered on her face, or do we dig a little deeper to try and uncover what lies behind this jovial façade? The non-stop to-and-fro between laughter and terror is one of Get Out’s strongest elements and ensures that the audience are never comfortable and are never certain of what is going to happen next.
It’s rare for a film – especially a horror – to leave you wondering how it’s all going to end. It’s either happily ever after – the family escape the demon, yay! – or a dramatic finish with a sequel sting – the killer’s alive! Get Out, however, is one of those sickly sweet horror films that takes you on a journey that is far from predictable. Chris’ friend tells him that the family is probably going to hypnotise him and turn him into a sex slave which, of course, can’t be true. Can it? Get Out is so expertly structured as it drip-feeds its audience information, that by the time we’re in the middle of this hideously awkward almost all-white garden get-together, we’re ready to see anything unfold. Perhaps it is the sex slave thing. Perhaps they’re aliens. Perhaps it’s all a dream. Who knows? The unknowing is beautifully terrifying, because it’s refreshing to see a horror film unfold so unexpectedly, but it is also unbearably intense.
As well as being one of the most uneasy horror watches of the year, Get Out will be remembered for its well-handled and appropriate social commentary. It’s worn brazenly on its sleeve and there is no mistaking Get Out’s concern with racial fears as anything else but that. From the onset Chris asks Rose if she’s told her parents that he’s black and when she says she hasn’t, he gets a little terrified. The real terror in the film lies in the sad truth of this situation and the ease at which an audience – whether they are black or white – will probably understand his concern. A simple early shot sees a black man tending the garden and in this one simple, perfect moment from Chris’ perspective, alarm bells ring and Get Out manages to explode with questions about classism, slavery and racism, paving the way for a smart, thoughtful and consistently chilling horror film experience.
Get Out shines a bright and necessary light on the horrors of racism, but doesn’t preach its beliefs at the top of its lungs. Peele understands that you don’t need to shove views down your audiences’ throat, because an image or a word of dialogue can speak a thousand words. It’s far more effective to sprinkle your feature with strong opinions; never letting a political or social voice overshadow a film’s entertainment. Never do Rose’s parents openly admit their racism or dispel their daughter for her relationship; instead, it is her father’s support of Obama and his knowledge of Jesse Owens that, perhaps strangely, teases his disapproval of his daughter’s relationship. While this year’s Best Picture Oscar-winner, Moonlight, chooses to argue its opinions on race and sexuality though real-life, emotive drama, Get Out choses to adopt a somewhat witty and consistently scary, approach. Proving that hard truths and strong, important opinions can hide below the surface of a studio horror film, Get Out will hopefully pave the way for more unique and important horror films to prove that the genre should not go unrecognised.
Get Out is an expertly crafted nail-biter that effortlessly crafts an atmosphere of increasing dread and tension. Not only does it succeed as an extremely funny and wickedly intelligent piece of film-making, Get Out is one of the most enjoyably uncomfortable horror film experiences I’ve ever had. Unnerving, surprising and excellent, Get Out is an instant modern horror classic.
Words: Jessy Williams (@JessyCritical)