by Ted Zep
(Rating: R – Runtime: 1 hr. 43 min. – Genre: Horror/Mystery – Director/Writer: Jordan Peele – Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Lil Rel Howery)
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) accompanies his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to her family’s estate to meet her parents for the first time. Since he is black and she is white, he is nervous about the reception he will receive. The visit starts out oddly but swiftly becomes menacing as the intentions of the family are revealed.
Get Out is a horror film comprised of layers. On the surface, it has a Stepford Wives-styled plot about a stranger in a tight-knit, peculiar community. Once the story begins to unfold, it reveals punchy and prescient observations about race, dating, liberalism, class, and entitlement.
In many ways, it reminds me of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. At first blush, Apes is a sci-fi/adventure flick about a group of astronauts who crash land in a world in which apes are the dominant mammals. However, the film is rife with commentary about religion, science, and gender politics.
Much like Apes, Get Out works on a basic level. It is a great horror film. It is tense and scary and keeps you guessing until the ultimate reveal. This is key to the success of the headier elements of the script. If it was a bad movie, the smart stuff would be irrelevant because it would be piggybacked on an inadequate delivery device. Jordan Peele made sure that he made a good horror flick in which to convey his larger message.
Additionally, he wrote a smart, likable protagonist in the “Chris” character, as portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya. This is the first time I’ve seen Kaluuya in anything but, man, he is terrific. He shows versatility and charm on the screen.
I wasn’t quite as enamored with Lil Rel Howery’s depiction of “Rod,” Chris’ best friend. He approached the character with the volume turned way up, causing him to chew up the scenery in double time. While the comic relief was a welcome respite from the tension of the main storyline, I wish he would’ve ratcheted down the wackiness.
The real brilliance of the film is the manner in which Jordan Peele is able to simultaneously service and inform a diverse audience. He includes scenarios that represent the caution and outrage familiar to many viewers, all while using satire and social commentary in a bid to change the hearts and opinions of another segment of the audience. He adroitly balances both agendas and does so without being insulting or aggressive.
Shot for $4.5 million, Get Out made about $30 million during its opening weekend. It proves the double-point that there is room in theaters for films that tackle difficult topics, in addition to well-made horror films.
The first-time director has pulled off the rare hat trick of making an excellent scary movie–chock full of important conversation points–that also appeals to a broad audience.
This is the beginning of a major career for Jordan Peele.