GET OUT Puts A Terrifying Face On Racial Awkwardness
Jordan Peele gets it

getout

Get Out has a simple premise: Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris is a black guy who is headed to his white girlfriend’s parents home for the weekend (a pitch perfect Allison Williams). Chris realizes this might be a little shocking for the parents, but Rose, his girlfriend, insists that they’re not racist. Sure, they might tell him that they would have voted for Obama for a third term, but they mean well.

What we go through for the next hour or so is terrifying and creepy, but it’s terrifying and creepy in a specific way. Horror is at its best when it’s taking your fears and amplifying them to point of catharsis. You’re scared of the dark and a ghost story is the best antidote. You’re scared of unstoppable forces? A force of nature murderer is what’s best.

Jordan Peele, in his feature-film debut as a director, goes straight for a specific fear: being around people who aren’t sure how to relate to you. If you’ve ever been in a situation where someone makes an awkward joke in an attempt to relation, or someone makes some crazy assumption about what you care about, you know what that’s like. You eventually learn that the best thing to do is to chuckle along, diffuse the situation and move on to the next extremely awkward greeting.

It is creepy and awkward and terrifying all at the same time. You cringe when Rose’s dad actually tells Chris that he’d vote for Obama for a third term, throwing in that he’s the best president of his lifetime. You sink back into your chair when they relate a story about Jesse Owens to Chris because it’s something he’d be interested in. Or how his genetic makeup makes him ideal for MMA.

There’s more to Get Out than that awkward suffocation, you eventually get the sense that something strange is going on. Something even deeper and weirder than racial awkwardness. I don’t want to delve into it too much because discovering it all is part of the fun.

At the same time that all the creepiness is happening, Peele does something most horror films don’t do: it turns to comedy to flush out all the awkwardness. Humor is a great coping mechanism for horrific situations, and that’s embedded in Get Out. When something weird or creepy happens to Chris, he cracks a joke or tries to lessen things. There’s a specific moment in the movie that best illustrates this: he has a weird interaction with a woman, and once she leaves and the audience has digested the moment, he drops a “she’s a crazy bitch.” It works perfectly.

The performances throughout are great. Kaluuya is a star in the making, he’s got a wonderful presence about him. You want to hang out with him and see him command the screen, but he’s also got to let us into his world. We need to see things through his eyes, and his reactions are spot on every time. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are both great as Rose’s parents, coming off as well-meaning liberals who are trying a little too hard to prove they’re not racist. The person who steals the movie, other than Williams, is LilRel Howery as Chris’ TSA agent friend Rod. Every moment with him is a delight.

Peele is a natural talent at director. He not only understands horror, he understands cinema. He has such a command of what he’s doing that it’s hard to believe he’s never directed a film before. On top of that, he has a mastery of tone that is genuinely astonishing. He seamlessly bounces between comedy and creepiness, which is extremely difficult to do. I cannot wait to see what he does next behind the camera.

Get Out is wonderful. It’s smart and creepy and funny, a crowd-pleasing horror movie that strikes deep at a fear we’ve never really seen fully expressed on the big screen. It says all of it with a pure honesty that’ll really blow you away. Go watch Get Out.

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