Get Out REVIEW
Director: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Lil Rel Howery, Catherine Keener, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson, LaKeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, Caleb Landry Jones
Release: OUT NOW
Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) has been dating Rose Armitage (Alison Williams) for four months. They’ve reached the moment all couples do, when it’s time to meet the parents. Chris is… uncomfortable about being Rose’s first black boyfriend but she assures him that her parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) will be fine with it.
And they are. They’re incredibly fine with it. They bend over backwards to make Chris feel welcome and push through the inevitable awkward family dinner, and social events and shared stories and jokes. But as time goes by, Chris becomes more and more disconcerted. The house is too perfect, the servants – Georgina and Walter – belligerently friendly. The family view him like a curiosity, a pet, something to be prodded and tested. But is Chris paranoid? Or is something truly awful happening?
Get Out is the best horror movie that will be released this year. We honestly do not think anything else is going to come close to Jordan Peele’s extraordinary debut in terms of style, intelligence, menace, invention or sheer complexity and depth. This is a film produced on the Blumhouse model (single location, no big names) and on a $4.5 million budget. It broke through $100 million at the Box Office before it was even released internationally. This is that rarest of movies: a debut with massive critical and commercial success that deserves all of it and much, much more.
Much of that praise has to go to Peele, one half of legendary comedy duo Key & Peele. He folds a script which discusses modern, liberal, racism around a gloriously inventive and nasty premise and locks the two elements together seamlessly. This could, very easily, have been a film about the complex relationship a successful young black man has with the affluent liberal parents of his girlfriend. It could just as easily have been a relationship comedy with a few on-point jokes and a lot of fluff. It could have been a straight up and down, pedal-to-the-metal grindhouse schlockfest.
It’s so much more than all of these.
Peele’s script is the best we’ve heard in years, each word carefully honed to ensure they’re loaded with meaning. The camerawork is impressive TOO, with Peele and cinematographer Toby Oliver shifting seamlessly from distanced, locked-off shots that make us feel like an observer to terrifyingly up close and personal work. The movie, aesthetically, is similar to It Follows or The Guest but has more urgency and energy than either.
And then there’s the cast. Daniel Kaluuya is something of a genre hero in the UK for his incredible work on the brilliant, and unfairly cut short, The Fades as well as Skins, Babylon and Black Mirror. His US work has seen him build on that foundation, with a memorable turn as one of the few truly principled cops in Sicario leading to his work here. This is one of the most complicated, considered and successful leading man performances we’ve seen in a very long time. Chris is a trauma survivor and Kaluuya shows us not just that trauma but how he survived it and how he makes his way through the world as a young black man. There’s incredible caution, and reticence, to Kaluuya’s work here and you can see him hyper-aware of putting a foot wrong. It’s a fiercely intelligent, focused performance and the focal point for the entire movie. Kaluuya absolutely knocks it out of the park.
As does Allison Williams as Rose. Williams is best known for her work in Girls and she brings that same willingness to dive headlong into the role to Get Out. Rose is intense, compassionate and very smart. She’s also as guarded as Chris and the interactions with her family crackle with tension, just as her interactions with Chris spark with easy humour and love. It’s a hugely impressive performance and just one of four amazing turns from the female cast in the movie.
Erika Alexander has a memorable cameo as a police detective so well realiSed she feels like she’s briefly stepped across from her own movie. Catherine Keener brings incredible poise and authority to her role as Rose’s mother Missy and Betty Gabriel is magnetic as the Armitages’ housekeeper Georgina. Like Williams they all feel real, have agency and are vital to the plot. Like Williams they all impress every time they’re on screen.\
Elsewhere in the cast, Bradley Whitford almost visibly vibrates with joy at getting to basically parody his time as Josh on The West Wing. As Dean Armitage, Whitford is the archetypal rich liberal, chock full of stories, cultural appropriation and completely terrible slang. He’s immense fun and it’s a delight to see him returning to the genre after his glorious work in Cabin In The Woods.
And then there’s Rod, played by Lil Rel Howery. If you’re looking for the obvious comparison, Rod is to Chris what Randy is to Sid in the Scream movies. However, Get Out has none of the nudge/wink postmodernism of the Scream movies. Instead, Rod is somehow both the most sensible person in the film and the most out there. He’s instantly suspicious of what’s going on and when his suspicions begin to pan out, he, like Chris, acts like a real person. He’s smart, and sensible, has absolutely no filter and provides the film with several of its best moments. Oh and he’s a TSA agent.
That, weirdly, is one of the keys to understanding the movie. Rod is a TSA agent and a good guy. Chris is an artist rather than an athlete. Home is sometimes the least safe place you can be. Every single element of this movie is nuanced and subtle. It never pats you on the head, never tries to make you feel better. Instead, it drills down into the complicated, tension-filled truth of being black in America and couples that with a story you will not see coming. The end result is the best horror movie you’ll see this year and, perhaps, the best movie. Unmissably good.
Review by Alasdair Stuart