Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Get Out

I had heard that Get Out was a well-made, low-budget, dark-comedy horror film. That’s not exactly a favourite genre, but my gut told me I should take a chance on this one. Maybe I guessed that Get Out was not actually (by my definition) a horror film, though it certainly has the feel of a horror film. It’s also not a psychological thriller, as is the case for many so-called horror films. What it is (I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler), is a sci-fi film (albeit one of those sci-fi films, and there are many, which is made to resemble a horror film). As for the comedy, it certainly underlies the film throughout (as satire), and it is certainly very dark, but I hesitate to label Get Out a comedy because that takes away from the seriousness of its satirical message.

For me, identifying the genre is important because I’m a sci-fi fan who doesn’t much care for horror films. So I enjoyed Get Out more than I thought I would.

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington, a young photographer who has fallen in love with Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), who is taking Chris to meet her parents at their rural estate. Has she informed her parents that Chris is black? Nope. But Rose assures Chris that her parents are anything but racist (her father would have voted for Obama a third time if he could have). So off they go. 

Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener), do indeed give Chris a warm welcome, but it doesn’t take long for Chris to realize that something is a little off. Specifically, Rose’s parents have a maid (Georgina, played by Betty Gabriel) and a gardener (Walter, played by Marcus Henderson), both black, who are behaving oddly and are being treated unusually by Dean and Missy. Things get even weirder when Rose’s brother, Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), comes home. Jeremy makes comments about Chris’s body that sound distinctly racist and Chris is starting to feel a little uncomfortable.

Chris’s discomfort, and that of the viewers as the tension mounts, will continue to grow when he wakes up in the middle of the night and goes outside to smoke a cigarette. While there, he sees Georgina in an upstairs window and encounters Walter, adding to his worries (astute viewers will pick up clues here that I missed). And when Chris goes inside, Missy is there to invite him into the study, where they talk about his unfortunate smoking habit. 

At a big party (hosted by Dean and Missy) the next day, Chris is confronted with more bizarre behaviour and overt racist comments, making him wonder, much too late, if he should have come at all. Meanwhile, back in the city, Chris’s brother, Rod (LilRel Howery), also has reasons to wonder whether his brother should have gone. 

Get Out is well-acted by all concerned, has a fast-paced, suspenseful story (barely hinted at here) that kept me captivated throughout, has many insightful comments on racism, is often very funny (in a dark way) and is ultimately a great little low-budget indie sci-fi film. Unfortunately, the graphic violence at the end is completely unnecessary (though hardly out of place in a ‘horror’ sci-fi film), making it impossible for me to give Get Out more than ***+. My mug is up, but be warned that this is not for the many of you who abhor violent horror films.

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