Now Stay Woke: A Review of GET OUT
It’s no surprise Jordan Peele’s debut film, Get Out, is bursting with social commentary. Peele rose to prominence with Key & Peele, a sketch comedy show that was never afraid to lampoon the tough issues. A lifelong horror aficionado, Peele took the premise of an interracial couple traveling to meet the parents for the first time, flipped it on its head, and made a movie that’s equally topical, hilarious, and chilling.
Get Out begins with a black man anxiously walking through a suburban neighborhood at night. A car stalks the man and soon after, someone in a mask gets out of the car, chokes out the man, and drags him away. The audience is instantly reminded of Travon Martin or any number of similar tragedies in years past. Cue title card and music.
We meet our leads of the film, Chris Washington and his girlfriend Rose Armitage, as they prepare to leave for a getaway to Rose’s family’s estate. Chris is nervous about this trip and asks Rose if she has told her parents she’s dating a black man. She assures Chris not to worry about it, joking that her dad will be sure to let Chris know he would have voted for Obama for a third term. She promises that her family is accepting, and after an accident with a deer on the road and an awkward interaction with a local police officer, the couple arrives at the Armitage’s home.
The family seems welcoming at first but things become increasingly uncomfortable as Chris has several strange interactions with the parents, with Rose’s brother, and with the maid and groundskeeper, two people of color who act especially bizarre around Chris. The tension continues rising and Peele does a magnificent job of toying with audience’s emotions and expectations. The second act culminates with a group of rich, white people descending on the estate for an annual party, and the movie really takes off and doesn’t slow down from there. The end of the party reminded me in some ways of Salò, and in an attempt to avoid spoilers I will say no more about that.
Throughout the film, Chris stays in contact with his friend Rod, a TSA agent dog-sitting in Chris’s apartment while he’s away. Rod steals the show several times, delivering some of the movie’s biggest laughs. Peele gives the audience an outlet in Rod, who constantly reminds Chris he shouldn’t have gone to the house and not to trust anyone there.
Get Out has so many clever lines and scenes that pay off in the third act. Nothing is wasted and the movie never drags or loses its tension. Peele’s debut is one for the ages and I consider Get Out already one of the highlights of 2017, young as the year may be. He has crafted a thrilling, important piece of work that manages to delicately balance horror and comedy. I can’t wait to see what Peele brings to the table next, as he has already proven himself to be a genre visionary with only one film under his belt.