March 19, 2017
Locally this film was shown on a week together with the monster blockbuster remake of "Beauty and the Beast" which was being shown in practically 90% of the cinemas. Furthermore, it had a new director and unknown actors, so it had its odds against being noticed at all. This is unfortunate because this little film is actually one of the best reviewed films this year in the US. The excellent word of mouth that precedes this made this a must-see film for me.
Pretty white girl Rose Armitage brings Chris Washington, her black boyfriend of four months, to visit her parents, neurosurgeon Dean and psychotherapist Missy, in their mansion for the weekend. While he was received very well initially, the longer Chris stayed in the Armitage estate, interacted with their mysterious black servants, and met their overly friendly white guests, the more he feels there was something seriously amiss in this awkward situation.
From the moment Chris and Rose arrived at the Armitage house, writer-director Jordan Peele had us in the palm of his hands in his uniquely suspenseful yet engaging manner of discussing the sensitive subject of race. The horror in this film is not supernatural or ghostly. Instead, this is a social horror story built upon very real stereotypes of what whites in the US thought about blacks.
I had never heard of Daniel Kaluuya before even if he had been an actor for over 10 years. Most of his career was in British TV and film. His starring role in "Get Out" as Chris is his breakthrough into mainstream recognition. His big round eyes had lives of their own as they reflected helplessness and fear. It was amazing how his tears roll out with unspoken eloquence in scenes of stark terror.
Allison Williams is very charming and disarming as Rose. Bradley Whitford is talkative and amiable as Dean. Catherine Keener, the only actress I recognized by face in the cast, exudes a convincing and unsettling aura as a masterful hypnotherapist Missy. Caleb Landry Jones, a Baron Geisler clone, appropriately plays Rose's crazy younger brother Jeremy.
The black supporting actors in the cast made the most memorable impressions. Betty Gabriel may have a kind-looking face, but the way Peele executed her scenes, the creepy vibes she radiated as the strange maid Georgina are absolutely chilling. Also notable was comedian Lil Rel Howery whose profanity-spiked rapid fire lines as airport security guard Rod, Chris's best friend, single-handedly takes care of the humor department, an aspect just as important in this film as the horror.
There are admittedly also some plot problems, particularly about the iffy neurosurgical techniques and the self-explanatory giveaway clues so conveniently found in a carelessly hidden box. However, these could easily be overlooked as the film made some really bold and strong social statements, albeit bitterly satirical, while maintaining tight suspense with a sense of humor.
"Get Out" took the theme of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967) about interracial relationships and brought it to the present day in the most unexpected directions. Back then as it is now, race issues in the USA will always be a rich source of movie material. It does not always have to be about slavery or the civil rights movement. It just needs innovative writers, directors and artists to tell the stories in original ways, like this one did. 7/10.