As half of the comedy duo Key & Peele, Jordan Peele has plenty of experience dealing with racial issues in a humorous light. Often on Key & Peele, the sketches took on a cinematic tone in their deconstruction of race and they even employed horror trope to further drive home their point with hilarity. Making his directorial debut, Peele dives fully into racial issues and the horror genre with Get Out and crafts one hell of an impressive debut. Get Out is a creepy piece of horror filmmaking with well-timed humor to cut the tension. The film may not entirely live up to its aspirations of racial commentary come the end, but there’s never a dull moment in Jordan Peele’s audacious and entertaining debut.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) have been dating for the past five months. Now they’re about to embark on a trip together to visit her parents, and she hasn’t informed her parents that they’re an interracial couple which leaves Chris a little apprehensive. “They’re not racist,” she tells him the night before they leave to her secluded childhood home. Upon arriving, Chris is greeted with a seemingly idyllic nuclear family. Rose’s father Dean (Bradley Whitford) is a neurosurgeon and her mother Missy (Catherine Keener) is a psychologist specializing in hypnosis. Dean is fairly affable and Chris mostly shrugs off the casual racial condescension employed by the father of his girlfriend. They’re soon joined by Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), a sneering young man with an unsubtle and unpleasant demeanor. There’s just something off. The servants employed at this household, Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson), have an almost robotic quality to their human interactions; Chris tries to bond with them based upon the color of their skin but they don’t seem to understand his vernacular and react as if from another world altogether. Perhaps there’s something lurking beneath this quaint little family, and Chris only has a short window of time to get out.
The most impressive aspect of Get Out has to be the manner with which Jordan Peele displays incredible control over the tone and pacing of the film. The opening scene alone has one of the most effective jolts from a horror film in recent memory, and it works entirely because of Peele’s discipline behind the camera. He sets a creepy stage and gives the audience information visually, but then elicits a massive jolt because of the parts he chose not to show. Where most films use jump scares because they simply have nothing else, Get Out employs jump scares to keep the audience on its toes and to raise our collective heartbeats before escalating the stakes. Throughout Get Out, Peele commands the audience’s attention as he creates an impending sense of dread while withholding information and letting the drama unfold in increasingly startling ways.
The comedic instincts of Jordan Peele serve him well in the horror genre as he inserts a number characters and scenes that are hilarious and cut the tension just a little bit before kicking the film into high gear. As Chris’ best friend Rod, a TSA agent, Lil Rel Howrey steals the show with a majority of the movie’s funniest lines and a performance that allows every punchline to land with maximum effectiveness. The laughs come in a variety of forms, sometimes from Chris’ reaction to the robotic helpers at this creepy estate or oddball characters like a blind art dealer played by Stephen Root.
From top to bottom, the cast of Get Out delivers stellar work. Daniel Kaluuya is a star and does everything that is asked of his character (which is quite a lot) at the highest possible level. The character has to put on a brave face around the parents of his girlfriend before the story takes him into the deepest, darkest recesses of his painful memories, and Kaluuya never disappoints. Surprisingly, Allison Williams is also very good, although her performance is much sneakier and eventually allows the actress to show a side of herself that has never been displayed before. As the parents, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener provide the film with its veteran anchor; with Whitford displaying charm before shifting to menacing while there’s always something unsettling about Keener. Then there’s Caleb Landry Jones who I think is just incapable of delivering a performance that doesn’t bring forth a certain level of dread. Even the supporting performances of Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson are chock full of memorable moments that will stick with you well after you’ve left the theater.
I’m not going to divulge the big reveal that lies at the heart of Get Out, but I will say that it seems that Jordan Peele may have been holding a bit back at the end. Far be it for me to complain that the conclusion of Get Out doesn’t go far enough as it features one of the most cathartic endings to a horror film in a long time, delivering the shocking goods as audience delightfully cheers. It’s quite possible that had this been made after the election of Donald Trump that it might’ve found that extra edge, but there’s still enough valuable social commentary weaved into the fabric of this horror thriller that it will be the subject of debate for years to come.
Get Out is just an absolutely blast to behold. Jordan Peele may have earned his reputation as a comedian but he’s got one hell of a future ahead of him as director, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next be it horror or any other genre. The ease with which Get Out bobs and weaves between comedy and horror, social commentary and visceral thrills is truly the sign of a talent to be reckoned with. The talent on display in Get Out is truly scary, and so is this awesome movie.
Funny, smart, and effective, Jordan Peele makes his directorial debut with the wickedly entertaining Get Out, which blends social commentary with startling scares.