I once read that horror and comedy are genres that work well together because they both deal with things that make us uncomfortable. And few subjects make people (especially white people) more uncomfortable than race, so it's a natural that first time director Jordan Peele chose it as the theme for his wildly successful horror film Get Out. Despite some right wing reactionaries decrying it as racist itself, Get Out is an intelligent and insightful movie loaded with social commentary—not to mention genuine scares.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple months, you probably already know the premise: Black boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya of Black Mirror's excellent "15 Million Merits" episode) goes to meet his white girlfriend Rose's (Allison Williams) parents for the first time and begins to suspect something is off about the other Black folks he encounters in their community. What seems like a post-Black Lives Matter gloss on The Stepford Wives turns out to have some unexpected twists and turns, though it updates that film's vibe nicely.
There are moments of humor, particularly when Chris's buddy Rod (a breakout performance by Lil Rel Howery) is onscreen, but Peele has made Get Out first and foremost a horror film. There's a palpable sense of unease and discomfort building towards the gonzo, blood-drenched finale; some fine camerawork by cinematographer Toby Oliver (particularly in the hypnosis sequences); and an eerie, retro score composed by Michael Abels. The cast is uniformly excellent. Kaluuya and Williams are terrific, and the always reliable Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are engaging—and ultimately terrifying—as Rose's mom and dad Mr. and Mrs. Armitage. Younger brother Jeremy, meanwhile, is brought to malevolent life by Caleb Landry Jones, who's become a sort of go-to character actor for creepy types.
The element of race gives Get Out relevance and edge, but the movie wouldn't be such a hit if it didn't also work as a well-crafted and satisfying thrill ride. Peele has delivered an exciting horror film that has put both the genre and his own obvious talent in the spotlight.
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