First off, I have to say that this is my first written review since June, so I apologize if I’m a bit rusty.
But one of the reasons I haven’t written much about film lately is because – in my opinion – movies within the past year haven’t been that great. However, if Get Out is any indication of how good movies are going to be in 2017, well, we’re off to a damn good start.
The story centers around Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who for the past four months has been dating Rose (Allison Williams). The two are about to head to the suburbs so Chris can meet Rose’s parents for the first time. Chris feels Rose’s parents should be made aware of the elephant before it appears in the room – Chris is black and Allison is white. The latter assures him it won’t be a problem whatsoever, as Rose’s parents “would have voted for Obama a third time” if they could have.
Still skeptical, Chris agrees to give it a shot, while his friend (and proud TSA agent) Rod doesn’t take too kindly to the idea. Rod serves as Chris’ checkpoint back into the city throughout the movie, as well as the film’s comedic compass.
The first greeting appears amicable enough, but later interactions with Rose’s brother and the family’s housekeepers start to seriously raise Chris’ suspicions. At a family party, Rose’s relatives are quick to pint out Chris’ race and ask him obscure questions about the physical build and cultural perception of black people in today’s society. Still, he plays it cool, and tries not to make a scene. But after taking a flash photo of one of the first black men he has seen in days, the man seems to have a frantic breakdown, warning a visibly shaken Chris to “get out.”
This movie is an indisputable achievement in modern horror. Not only is it psychologically thrilling throughout and capped off with a blood-soaked finale, Get Out is an incredibly smart film. One scene in particular introduces the notion of hypnosis, and the subtle build up from casual conversation to the scene’s climax is tantalizingly brilliant.
It also addresses an obviously serious and controversial subject facing the country and handles it with much care. Not once did I feel like the film was pushing a racial agenda, and if there was one there, in no way did it feel unwelcome or tarnish the movie. That’s how smart and careful Get Out is.
However, one area where the rest of the film’s intelligence seemed to be slightly lacking was in character behaviors.
This is not a knock on the characters themselves, nor the actors. There are great performances all around – notably from its two leads and those enslaved in their own minds. However, the characters seemed to know they were in a movie. The excessive narration from two of the characters – one of these instances being in the opening scene – served to distract from my experience instead of enhancing it.
For example, when Rod sets up the task of recording a phone call, we as an audience do not need to hear “Okay…record, speaker phone, unmute.” Up to this point, we as an audience were led to believe we were smart enough to follow along without guidance – but the film took a 180 here. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a nitpick, but in a movie that sees everything flow so smoothly otherwise, it’s a shame moments like these were allowed to slip in where tension could have resided instead.
Furthermore, despite being a thriller, Get Out is a very funny movie. But unfortunately, not all of the humor worked for me. For a while it seemed out of place, especialy at the beginning when building the framework for the story. However, I think both the movie and I gradually worked out a better understanding of the use of comedy as the runtime went on. Towards the end, the humor (and its primary delivery man in the form of Rod) was complimenting the horror quite hysterically.
The last 20 minutes of this film had the audience literally cheering. I have never been to a movie with such an engaged audience, and I have been to a lot of movies. Hearing this crowd applaud and holler for a man taking a bocce ball to another’s skull speaks to the power of this film. It’s gross, disturbing, unsettling, but it’s also magnificently enjoyable.
Everything in Get Out was set up intricately – characters, motivations, and storylines – to pay off in the latter half of the film. It’s a killer mystery full of twist after twist. When you realize how smart of an undertaking Get Out is, you’re in for quite a treat.