One of the most brilliantly written horror films as there has ever been (only the final exchanges of dialogue, while passable, fall short of inspiration). Get Out regardless is easily a pop phenomenon – a courageous horror idea, populated by great actors working with unusually smart and brash material, and elevated by clever visual schemes and cunning motifs. Jordan Peele, the writer-director, is something of a hero of the moment by elevating the genre to something that will appeal to smart viewers.
Peele’s peerless choice for lead actor Daniel Kaluuya, as Chris Washington, is a funny-jivey yet mature African-American who is dating a white woman named Rose Armitage (Allison Williams has screen magnetism), deciding to go along on a weekend trip upstate to visit her family. The Armitage family lives in an affluent woodsy area, have two black servants who heed to a century old kind of servitude, a jujitsu-loving brother, and the dad is a neurosurgeon while the mom is a hypnotherapist (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener). The parents find Chris to be charming company, they even pander with “My Man” and over-emphasize their adoration for Barack Obama, but they both agree that Chris’ smoking habit has got to go. A hypnotizing session turns into a visually spellbinding sequence that messes with Chris’ mind, as he drops into a black abyss – it probably is the best trancelike sequence of its kind since “Rosemary’s Baby” – and it sets a transition of paranoid mood that looms over the rest of Chris’ freaky journey.
Sure, “Get Out” evolves into a heevy jeevies horror film, but the sneaky second act pops as satire of white privilege discomfort while in the company of black people. We meet a lot of whites at a garden party thrown by the Armitages, with one black guest who acts with more extreme whiteness than anybody else, and the friction only widens between Chris with everybody else who seem to patronize the idea of blackness. Rose tries to be endearing about the whole thing by responding that she’s embarrassed by her family. Chris’ friend (Lil Rel Howery), a TSA agent back in New York City, is more outright and tells him over the phone with many hilarious reasons why he should get the hell out of there. So hilarious it is truly side-splitting.
Chris does go into a place he shouldn’t go, it’s one of those last regrets forays. From there, it gets scary. One or two performances do get overbroad when the masks come down and they reveal their true duplicity. Then there’s that last dialogue exchange which could have come from amateur night at the Laugh Factory. “Get Out” deserved a bigger, more tremendous laugh. Quibbles. When I laugh and quiver in equal measure during a horror film as special as this one, and blind-sighted by its’ wit, well, I can’t help but say I look forward to placing it on my ten best list come the end of the year.
104 Minutes. Rated R.
HORROR / ADULT ORIENTATION / LATE NIGHT THRILLS
Film Cousins: “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968); “The Wicker Man” (1973); “The Stepford Wives” (1975); “Stir of Echoes” (1999).