February 24. 2017.
“Now stay woke, N*ggas creepin’, They gon’ find you, Gon’ catch you sleepin’ (Ooh)” is the first non-diegetic sound we hear in Get Out. The camera slowly pushes out as we reveal our protagonist’s apartment while we see him cut himself while shaving. You know when you open your film to a Childish Gambino track, your movie is going to be woke. There cannot be a more perfect song to sum up this film. The themes and lyrics of the song perfectly encapsulates the nature of Get Out. Jordan Peele is foreshadowing the whole film with one song at the very start of the movie. It is a perfect musical choice. Get Out earns its right to play “Redbone,” as it is the most woke, and one of the most disturbing movies I’ve seen so far this year.
Get Out is directed by Jordan Peele and stars Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams. You may know funny-man Jordan Peele from his old Comedy Central show, “Key and Peele.” This movie does boast a lot of laughs, but this film is not a comedy. In the film Chris (Kaluuya), and his girlfriend Rose (Williams), are a young interracial couple who go to visit Rose’s wealthy family in the countryside. All of Rose’s family members act very suspicious around Chris, and from there the story really gets going. Get Out is a movie that is best seen with nothing spoiled for you, and this review will be spoiler free. This film, as anybody could have guessed, is about racial tensions in our world, (or more specifically America) and is a modern day allegory to slavery. The themes of racism, relationships, and family are very apparent in Get Out, and Peele does a fantastic job of delving deep into his themes without sounding preachy. With everything going on in our world right now, this is an extremely important film that everybody should check out, no matter how over the top it can be.
I wouldn’t really categorize Get Out as horror film. There are lots of effective scares of course, but the horror doesn’t seem to really exist. I would describe this film as a tense, cerebral thriller. The horror is all in the subject matter. Peele is more focused on the subject matter than he is crafting a scary movie. Quite a few cliche moments pop up, where it gets all quiet, then we hear a quick sound and something pops up on the screen only for it to be nothing. Some of it is very comedic actually, I’m not too sure if that’s what Peele was going for, but the comedy horror took me out of the film sometimes. The suspense in Get Out was incredibly done though. My skin was itching the whole film. I was disturbed watching the screen, but I was totally engrossed. There is a lot of twists and turns that Get Out takes, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, with my eyes glued to the screen. I’m usually quiet in theatres, as I like to keep to myself and not disturb anyone around me, but even my girlfriend noticed and told me that I was quite vocal with my constant gasping and shifting around my seat. The narrative is thought-provoking and disturbing. I had no idea where the film was taking me. The camera is very stationary, with a lot of slow push-ins and push-outs that added levels of suspense and eeriness to the picture. With this, Peele crafted a thought-provoking thrill train, and I was strapped in my seat the entire time.
The pacing in Get Out is incredible for a first time director. I really enjoyed how Peele was able to add layers upon layers to the text, especially with his foreshadowing. There is quite a bit of foreshadowing in this movie, and you don’t really notice it until the screen cuts to black and you’re walking out of the theatre trying to comprehend everything you just witnessed. Foreshadowing is a hard to task to complete because if something comes out of the blue in a movie then the audience is confused. The foreshadowing in Get Out is set up effectively, and nothing in this film felt forced or out of the blue. Every twist and turn was earned, which is a success credited to Peele. What I felt the film was lacking however, was individual characterization. Chris is our main protagonist, and we get quite the backstory on him and his character, but I wanted to know more about Rose and her family. The only real character depth we get of them is expository dialogue explaining what they do. I wanted to know what makes each one of them tick, and I didn’t feel like I understood their thoughts and why they do what they do. Another problem, as I said before, that I have with the film is that it can get very over the top. The horror that Peele was going for doesn’t work all the time, the comedic scenes that are supposed to be funny are great, but some scenes that should’ve felt like horror also came out as comedic. These are only small problems I have with the movie overall though. Other than Peele’s storytelling and his phenomenal pacing, I felt the acting to be one of the strongest points of the movie.
Daniel Kaluuya was phenomenal as Chris. He plays him not as weak and fragile, like other actors would because you should be sorry for his character, but instead plays him with a reserved, detective like nature. He wants to be kind, and on his best behaviour to impress his girlfriend’s parents, but he doesn’t let anyone push him around because of the color of his skin. He is trying to uncover the secrets that this family is hiding. His best scene was the one shown in the trailer. He’s sitting on a chair, eyes bloodshot and as big as the moon, breathing heavily, trying to figure out everything that is transpiring around him. Also, near the end Chris has to make an excruciating decision, and you can read all of his thoughts with one facial expression from Kaluuya. I also really enjoyed Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, and Allison Williams as Rose and her family. Whitford and Keener’s characters are acting themselves in the story, and they do a great job of balancing kindness and hostility with Chris. Williams shows her complete range as an actress in this film, and her character is a huge turning point in the story. I’ll just leave her at that. Other than Kaluuya, my favorite performance was LilRel Howery as Chris’ best friend, Rod. He’s the comic relief in the story, and every single scene he’s in had me rolling. His character is a good juxtaposition for the heavy themes and intense story Peele is conveying. Some characters do fall flat in depth, but the performances make up for it.
Overall, Get Out is a highly intellectual, thought-provoking, cerebral thriller that has a lot more on its mind than others in its genre. Its message is as important as can be in today’s world, and its ability to frighten, while also educating us on prejudices against african-americans today is outstanding. The pure horror elements do lack, and its thrills can get a little over the top sometimes, but as a suspenseful thriller is when the movie works the best. Character depth lacks with most of its characters, but the acting is top-notch and tries to make its crazy story more believable. Peele is a first time director, but it doesn’t show. His pacing is superb, weaving through the narrative with precision, and conveying his themes with confidence. The performances and Peele’s direction elevate this movie to something more than a by the numbers thriller. Distilled to its essence, Get Out is communicating that Peele wants his viewers to stay woke.