Release: 24th July 2017
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
How does one talk about Get Out, the creepy suburban thriller written and directed by one part of comedy duo Key & Peele, without focusing on the obvious; America’s (and to a larger extent, the world’s) complicated relationship between black and white cultures? This is a film built on the very rocky foundations where Uncle Sam has planted his flag of ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’. Being Black has long been a struggle in various capacities, and it would seem that even in this so-called inclusive age of civilization, there is still very clearly a divide; and one that Get Out does a helluva great job exploring.
A good way to approach Get Out is to think of it as a parable, not a just a social commentary, and the implications are seemingly endless. Is it a comment on #BlackLivesMatter, or slave narrative? Does it have its sights set on the gentrification of black culture for white Middle America, or is it a poke at the whitewashed elite that secretly run everything? Or maybe it is just a really strong warning against smoking at your in-law’s house. The fact of the matter remains; Get Out is intricately about the experience of young black people in the modern age, whilst also highlighting an important truth – until we become more than the colour of our skin, things will never change – no matter how superficially positive things appear. Peele himself describes it perfectly; Get Out is about the post-racial lie. America and the world are not free of institutionalized racism, it just looks and sounds a little different since Obama came and went.
Equally as important; is the film actually scary? The truth is that Get Out is possibly one of the most unconventionally scary films to arise from Hollywood in a longtime. BlumHouse Productions have been leading the charge in an emerging trend of horror films one might label ‘psychedelic dread.’ Films such as The Visit, Split and now Get Out (along with contemporaries such as The Witch, It Comes At Night and It Follows) are films that do not attempt to scare with jumps, soundtracks or even outright baddies. Instead, they establish uneasy cinematic worlds that boil over and push audiences to the edge of comfort, and then disappear into the night leaving an aftertaste of unease that lasts for days. That sense of relief, the endorphin rush that follows a good scare, is denied, offering only a looming anxiety. Trust me, Chris’ hypnosis scene is more unsettling than a thousand sequels to The Ring or a ghostly nun knocking about a North London council house. Think somewhere between Rosemary’s Baby and the final act of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. This sort of horror may frustrate younger or unsuspecting audiences, but the truth remains that if one submits to the woes of Get Out’s journey, it will chill to the spine.
One of the film’s charms is lead actor Daniel Kaluuya. Throughout the film, Kaluuya’s Chris carries a knowing smile that says, “I see through you.” He rides the waves of his racial identity within a Caucasian prism the way Patrick Swayze tamed the ocean in Point Break. Yet the surprises come thick and fast, undermining not only Chris’ reading of the white people around him, but also showing us that first impressions are not always that reliable. Intentionally or not, this inverse plays both ways in that Chris cannot trust what he thinks he knows, the same way Peele wants us to challenge the way we currently see the world. Chris remains an everyman right until the final ‘showdown’ when he suddenly becomes John Rambo, and blood is freely spilled. It is a disappointing, if not cathartic resolution, that, in its closing seconds, takes one final swipe to prove in spite of it all, as an audience, we still automatically assume we know what comes next.
Film Grade: B+
As you might expect, the most engaging feature is the Director’s Commentary. Peele offers some solid infotainment on the themes of his film, and provides some nice anecdotes. The Making Of is a condensed look at Peele’s ideas, while the Alternate Ending is thankfully less engaging than the one in the final cut. Over 20 minutes if Deleted Scenes add little to the film, and Q&A session offers Chance a…chance to prove that he is no talk show host.
Special Features Grade: C
You will never look at flash photography or bone china in the same way again. And yes, THAT run never gets old.
Overall Grade: B-