By Alexia Evripidou
In today’s saturated market, truly original films are now a relatively rare occurrence. Most genres have been done to death and there’s an insistence within the industry to focus on dazzling visuals instead of balancing aesthetics with storyline for a fuller filmic journey. However, don’t dismay, Get Out allows viewers to once more be wowed; it’s excellently made, clever, scary, funny and sadly poignant.
Get Out is the directorial debut by Jordan Peele, one part of the two-man comedy show Key & Peele. It may not be the best film ever made, or have unforgettable cinematography, Oscar winning performances or a breathtaking score, although all of the above were great – and you can’t go wrong with high-pitched violins to keep you on tenterhooks. Technically it is well made but the two things that stood out for me were the subject matter and the film’s genre. Both are original, brave and full of impact, intellectually, emotionally and visually.
The film is ultimately a comedy horror about the realities of being a black person in a mainly white society. It is imbued with painful and everyday racist clichés yet balanced on their delivery with the clever juxtaposition between the real and the absurd. Peele manages to run realistic, slapstick and surrealistic simultaneously and pull it off. With the Alfred Hitchcock influences in it, I could describe Get Out as a modern day mash up of Stepford Wives and Psycho.
Get Out is about a young black man Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) who go to visit her family for the first time. The family is wealthy and lives in a large estate in America’s suburbia. Although the situation seems normal initially, as the days unfold a series of bizarre behaviours by everyone they meet, gradually begin to ring alarm bells in Chris’ head. Chris soon enough discovers that black residents have gone missing but like all great horrors, the build up and suspense till things get figured out, is enough to keep you on the edge of your seat shouting ‘get out, get out!’ No coincidence then on the film’s title.
The film really shouldn’t have worked on paper, but it does and it really drives a point across too, while being wonderfully entertaining. Kudos to you Peele!
Get Out opens deliciously dark and exactly as it intends to continue; managing to both terrify and remind us of some home truths. Peele doesn’t want to make it an easy watch; he’s making a serious point that demands attention but he also wants to make a credible horror too.
Chris is a little concerned that Rose hasn’t mentioned to her family that he’s black. On arrival the family is more than friendly and seems unperturbed about his race, however, it’s exactly that ‘more’ part that makes Chris uncomfortable. Everything seems a little too nice, too chilled. The father (Bradley Whitford) makes a point, insisting that he would have voted for Obama for the third term and Rose’s psychiatrist mother pushes Chris into hypnosis against his will to help with his smoking habit. Then there’s the spooky black hired help who walk around as if in a daze; half present and half lost. Unbeknown to the couple, the family was celebrating an event that weekend and had invited many middle class friends. Racial awkward conversations take place which soon turn more unpleasant. This is where Stepford Wives vibes kick in and the moving between real and surreal gets cranked up very effectively.
Get Out is ultimately a film which directly lifts the lid on post racial America to reveal what’s going on underneath under the pretext of a well executed horror interspersed with laugh out loud humour. It’s well acted and well crafted. It’s refreshingly honest and original and it makes another great point; you can broach any serious issue using any genre, as long as you do it well. Plus it reminds us why wealthy American suburbs are still perfect settings for sinister events!
GET OUT ****
DIRECTED BY Jordan Peele
STARRING Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
US 2017 104mins