Directed by Jordan Peele,
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener
Chris is a little anxious that he’s about to meet his girlfriend Rose’s family after four months. This fear stems from knowing that she hasn’t told her family that Chris is African American, while Rose is calm about her whiter than white rich family accepting him. When they reach the family home, near a lake and on a lot of land, something just doesn’t feel right to Chris. The family welcome him in with open arms but there are two African American household staff that are behaving oddly. Things take a turn for the stranger when an annual party at the house freaks Chris out to the point he wants to run away.
Although I do like the gore of Raw (reviewed here), and the slasher horrors of the 1980s, it’s the films like The Wicker Man, and The Stepford Wives that truly mess with my head and leave me freaked out with reality. It’s the fact that a normal situation, or even when life is going too good, that there is something lurking in the background that is going to make me pay for it. Just to clear something up I’m talking about the original films Wicker Man and Stepford here not the abominations that were inflicted upon us this century. Anyway, it wasn’t until last week that Get Out popped up on the radar. I don’t watch trailers any more nor do I do research on any film that I’m about to watch. But you had to be hiding under a rock not to hear that there was something special about this film.
The first striking thing here is that the performances are just outstanding. Subtle and understated for a horror film, really strong, and with a cast like this they couldn’t be anything else. Then you have writing that understands the genre and has something to say about modern society. Understanding the genre is one thing, but adding to it with a little originality is something else, which is done here with ease. Then the PR person before the screening told me that this film was produced and released for under four million dollars. These are all amazing facts about this film, and for once you can believe that every critic left this screening without a negative word on their lips. I cannot find fault with the film.
Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris, tortured by past experiences but burying them deep as he tries to make something positive of his life. He’s trying to give up smoking, and with Rose’s mother being a hypnotherapist it seems like things are set up for this to be a helpful relationship. The mother is played by the ever reliable Catherine Keener. Bradley Whitford plays the Father who we know is a doctor, and when it becomes clear which discipline he favours its adds to the film. Rose is the perfect girlfriend and played wonderfully by Allison Williams. The comic relief is provided by Chris’ friend Rod, played brilliantly by LilRey Howery.
I could talk about plot points, camera work, and the soundtrack of the film, but that stuff doesn’t matter too much when great horror storytelling is taking place. This film breaks the barriers of traditional horror films by dealing with the racial tensions in America but in the same breath they don’t deal with the true nature of the tensions. Jordan Peele shows that there is still hope for the horror genre, writing and directing this film, which gives you more than any blockbuster I’ve seen in the last twelve months. The hypnosis moments of the film are so close to the reality of the process, having gone through some of it, that it added to the tension for the viewer. This is not a slasher horror, and does not have the gross out mentality of Raw, but for me this is one of the best horrors to come out of America for years.