Since the first trailer for the film was released a few months ago, Get Out had fast become one of my most anticipated films of 2017. The whole idea of, essentially, a version of The Stepford Wives but for race is something so ingenious I’m surprised it hasn’t been made until now. Plus, it marks the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, one half of Key and Peele, and one of the best sketch comedians working today. Especially with what has been going on in America over the past few months, a film like Get Out is more important now than ever, but it’s going to be hard for me to review it without giving away some elements of the plot. If you want my brief thoughts, I think Get Out is going to be one of the best films of the year and you should definitely see it. With that said, and with a spoiler warning in effect, here is my review of Get Out.
The film focuses on Chris, a photographer, going up to visit the parents of his girlfriend, Rose, for the first time. However, Rose and her family are white and Chris is black, something Rose hasn’t told her parents about and which Chris thinks will be a big deal. When they arrive, on the surface, the parents don’t see Chris being black as an issue, but over time, the lack of other black people in the suburb and the overall attitudes of the other white people put Chris on edge, codified when one of the only black people he encounters feels off and yells at Chris to ‘get out’ when Chris takes his photo (with the camera flash on), with it becoming clear that there is something going on. Now I won’t say much more about the plot, the less you know the better the experience, but I will say that the way Peele approaches the racism of the characters is fascinating. In order for a film like this to work, it can’t be too obvious that the characters are racist, seeing elements like a Confederate flag or a ‘make America great again’ cap would confirm the racism of the characters and make it less believable that Chris would stay around as long as he does. The genius of Peele is that he made the racism of the characters incredibly subtle, mainly in that they don’t think they’re being racist. They are more than happy to go on about how they would vote for Obama for a third term if they could, how much they respect Jesse Owens, and how much they love Chris but it’s clear that, throughout it all, they don’t see Chris as a person, they see him as black, first and foremost, and how they like the image of being black, but without the understanding of the life experiences of black people. This brings in some thought provoking ideas for the audience, for me, being white, it’s made me think about whether I have had these thoughts, completely unintentionally and subconsciously, and ideas this strong help make Get Out have the impact it does. What also helps is that Peele’s brilliant understanding of the horror genre. There are elements of hypnotism and losing control of the body that Peele brings in that give the film this incredibly creepy vibe throughout. The atmosphere that’s present in Get Out is easily the strongest part of the film, which I’ll get into a bit later, and, combined with the incredibly intelligent themes, makes Get Out one of the most effective horror films to come out in a long time.
The performances meanwhile further help the atmosphere in Get Out. Daniel Kaluuya as Chris is excellent, brilliantly showing his concern and acceptance of the casual racism he experiences everyday, along with a genuine love for Rose that lets you understand why he stays as long as he does. He also shows the growing suspicions of Chris brilliantly, all the decisions Chris makes seeming intelligent and coming across at the right times, adding to the strong pacing of the film. Plus, there’s a strong emotional core to the character once we find out his backstory, which brings in a more heartbreaking aspect of the character that Kaluuya sells perfectly. Allison Williams meanwhile is excellent as Rose, showing her love for Chris and her lack of understanding as to why Chris would be uncomfortable in the first half brilliantly, although to say more would be to spoil the film. As Rose’s parents (Dean and Missy), Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are great, having this brilliantly creepy vibe behind their pleasant exterior that makes the characters so effective as horror villains, whilst a more over-the-top performance is seen from Caleb Landry Jones as Rose’s brother, which also works in the context of the character. Some great comic relief is provided by Lil Rey Howery as Chris’ best friend, Ron, him acting as the audience surrogate a lot of the time, asking the questions and raising the suspicions to Chris that the audience would ask, as well as having the funniest lines in the film, aided by his excellent comic timing. Incredible creepy performances are also seen from LaKeith Stanfield, Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel, it being clear that there is something off about the characters whenever you see them, although to say more would spoil the film, whilst Stephen Root gives a great performance as a blind art dealer, one of the few people who talks to Chris like an actual person, bringing in interesting elements of whether a person can truly be ‘colourblind’, especially in the later stages of the film.
The technical aspects of the film need to be praised as well. I’ve already talked about how Jordan Peele creates a strong atmosphere in his writing and direction, with this being aided by DP Toby Oliver, helping to create a great feeling of isolation, especially related to the hypnotism, which has an atmosphere similar to Under the Skin, which is about the best way I can describe it without spoiling the film. The sound though is the main element where Get Out shines. The use of music is excellent, particularly Michael Abels’ incredibly sinister score, and the use of ‘Run, Rabbit, Run’. This is nothing though compared to the incredible sound design. This is some of the best sound design I’ve ever seen in a horror film. It’s hard to describe without having the sounds on hand, a lot of it is so subtle that you’ll barely notice it the first time round, but without it the film would lose so much of its power, the best use of sound easily being the scraping of a spoon against a china teacup, which becomes one of the most sinister, foreboding things I’ve heard in a film.
Overall, Get Out is an incredible film, one that firmly codifies, for those that somehow haven’t noticed before, just how talented Jordan Peele is, behind the camera as well as in front of it. Peele brings in personal experiences, elements of classic and modern horror and social satire to create a horror film that makes you question yourself, makes you think whether you share the views of the characters. It’s not many films that can make you take a look at yourself and help you realise things you may not have known beforehand, but Get Out is one of those films. As much as it makes me sound like the characters in the film (as Rian Johnson pointed out), Get Out is one of the best films of the year, will probably be the best horror film released this year, and is a film you need to see as soon as possible.
My Rating: 5/5