Written by: Jordan Peele
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Lil Rel Howery, Lakeith Stanfield, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, and Stephen Root
If you’re a fan of comedy you recognize the name Jordan Peele. Be it from his Mad TV days, or as one half of the comedic duo Key & Peel and their sketch comedy show, or from last year’s kitten caper comedic feature film, Keanu. Whatever it may be, you know one thing is a fact. Jordan Peele is one comically talented dude.
During a radio interview to promote Get Out, his latest project, Jordan Peele made a revelation. A fun fact not known by many of his fans, including myself. Turn out, not only is Jordan Peele a hilarious comedian, he’s a horror fan. In fact, it’s his favorite genre. With horror classics like Candyman, The Shining, and A Nightmare on Elm Street mentioned as some of his favorites.
Still, it’s surprising to discover someone we recognize as a comedic talent has written a horror movie. And not only that, but directed it as well. So the question becomes, can someone who is obviously talented in the comedy world create something just as good in the realm of horror?
Get Out tells the tale of Chris Washington (Kaluuya), a talented photographer, and his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Williams). After dating for a few months, Chris is about to do one of the most anxiety filled things a guy could do, meet his girlfriend’s parents for the very first time. Naturally, Chris is nervous about meeting the parents of the girl he loves for the first time, but even more so due to the fact that Rose hasn’t told her parents he’s black. Chris feels it would be a good idea to fill them in on that before visiting. Rose tells him not to worry and reassures him that her parents are cool, there’s no need to tell them, even though she admits he’s the first person of color she’s dated. Chris, still believing that it’d be a smoother introduction if she told her parents beforehand, agrees to put the matter aside, try to ease his mind, and trust that her parents will be accepting of the man their daughter is dating.
When they arrive at her parent’s picturesque estate, everything seems cool. Her dad Dean (Whitford), an accomplished neurosurgeon, is friendly and tells Chris he was a big supporter of President Barack Obama, and would vote for him again for a third term given the chance, something Rose told Chris her dad has stated before. Her mom Missy (Keener) a hypnotherapist, is welcoming of Chris too. And even offers to help Chris out with his attempts to quit smoking. Rose’s brother Jeremy seems cool, though after some drinks at dinner he gets a bit aggressive in talking things UFC, mixed martial arts, then wanting to spar with Chris to test his toughness before being told to hit the sheets and sleep it off by Dean and Missy.
Introductions out of the way, Chris can finally rest easy; or can he? Chris can’t shake a feeling. Something just feels off. The only other black people around are the groundskeeper Walter, and the housekeeper Georgina. And the looks Chris gets from them gives him a feeling of unease. It’s in their eyes. Something’s off, something’s just not right. Add to it, that night, as Chris goes outside to sneak a smoke when everyone else is fast asleep, he has a strange encounter with Walter, and spots Georgina staring at her own reflection from a window. But is it all in Chris’s mind? This feeling? That’s the big question. And with a big party planned at the Armitage house the next day, an annual party that Rose didn’t realize would land on the same day as their visit, Chris will get some answers
I’m gonna tread on spoiler territory coming up, freaks. So please be warned and continue with caution.
With Get Out, Jordan Peele brings us a movie that uses a real life situation and gives it a horrific twist. Using the theme of mixed race relationships, the challenges they face by some on the daily, racial profiling, and the anxiety felt by being the outsider in an unknown environment surrounded by unfamiliar faces. It’s relatable horror turned on its head, and it’s done to perfection.
The feeling of foreboding is established early and throughout. One that as a viewer is palpable, we feel it. And so, in the style of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and Bryan Forbes’s The Stepford Wives, the “what the fuck is going on?” vibe is very high in this one.
The performances are all on point in Get Out, everyone does an incredible job of bringing each character in this twisted tale to life.
Daniel Kaluuya brings a sympathetic vulnerability in the lead role of Chris. We learn early on that Chris had a tragic event occur at the age of 11, one that still eats away at him in his adulthood. Kaluuya brings this pain to the surface in what has to be the best, most intense, and beautifully acted scenes in Get Out between he and Catherine Keener as Missy, when she asks him to take a moment and sit with her to talk about the tragedy he experienced at such a young age. As they speak, Chris’s tough exterior begins to crack, and trying hard to fight them off, the tears begin to fall. This scene is not only key to the story of Get Out, but will stand the test of time as one of the greatest, not only in horror movie history, but movie history, period. It’s beautifully acted and shot in such an extraordinary style as it plays out.
Now, being that this is a horror movie created by a comedian you’re probably asking yourself if there are any funny moments in Get Out. The answer to that is yes, most definitely.
Those laughs are brought to you courtesy of comedian Lil Rel Howery in the role of Rod Williams, TSA agent and friend of Chris. Rod is dog sitting Chris’s pup for him while he’s away. He warns Chris about heading out into the suburbs saying many black men have disappeared there. Rod is the funny foreseer in Get Out and brings the comic relief that fits perfectly within the movie. There is one scene in particular, where Rod brings up notorious serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, that had the entire audience in the theater rolling with laughter, myself included. Rod brings the funny and in a movie like this it just works. Comedy and tragedy, like peanut butter and chocolate, go incredibly well together when put in the capable hands of a talented writer. They are on full display in Get Out thanks to Jordan Peele’s writing and Lil Rel Howery’s hilarious performance. Taking nothing away from the intensity of the movie, but adding to the fun and enjoyment of this movie watching experience.
Now, with a movie like this your imagination will begin to run wild as you watch, a natural problem solving instinct will kick in to put the pieces of this cinematic puzzle together and figure out just what the fuck is going on. So there will be guessing, and the chances are good that one of those guesses will be correct. Personally, I did figure it out midway through, as I’m sure other seasoned horror movie watchers will too. But, that being said, it takes nothing away from the enjoyment of Get Out. It’s incredibly entertaining and so well crafted.
The themes Jordan Peele weaves within this twisted horror tale has a tremendous impact because, as far out there as the horror fiction is, the whole ‘if they could they would’ concept is all too real given our nations not so squeaky clean history of treatment of African-Americans. And so a movie like this is not without its controversies. But that’s what makes it great and terrifying, the mix of historic horrific fact and cinematic horror fiction that blends together and makes you ponder what was and what could be again if we’re not careful.
Jordan Peele has entered the wonderful world of horror with Get Out. And if it’s any indication of what his future in the horror realm will bring, we are all in for a treat. Don’t miss it.