Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"Get Out" Review: A Surprisingly Insightful & Sadistically Satiric Statement on Race Relations in America


There are a lot of different comparisons that can be made between first time director Jordan Peele's Get Out and other films such as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Meet the Parents and Stepford Wives but doing so would only distract from the major accomplishment here. There are a lot of films out there that deal with the racial conflicts that sadly still exist in our world but none of them come within a mile of the social commentary explored in this biting satire cleverly disguised as a horror film. While many might not agree with the statement being made here it is near impossible to dismiss the near flawless execution by its creator. Read the full review after the break.

Review Vital Stats:   
Projector Type: 2D Digital
Film Rating: R
Film Runtime:  1 hr 44 min
Studio: Blumhouse Pictures
Release Date: February 24, 2017

Biases:  
Loves:  Horror comedies, Key and Peele
Likes: Social commentary flicks disguised as horror flicks
Neutral: Nothing
Hates: That most won't see it because it looks scary
Can Jordan Peele top this?: If he can we are in for a treat but if not at least we have this one.

Chris and Rose are happy together but aren't sure what her parents will think.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) have been dating for 4 months when they decide to take a small trip to Rose's parents hometown located in the outskirts of Brooklyn. Chris is worried how Rose's parents might react when they learn that she is dating a black man but after assuring him that they are not racists, Rose's father (Bradley Whitford) would have voted Obama in for a third term if he could have, Chris agrees to make the trip. Soon after arriving Chris is welcomed with open arms but finds himself feeling singled out by their odd questions and behavior towards him. It is only after he meets the family groundskeeper Andre (LaKeith Standfield) and the housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) who are the only other two black people around that he begins to notice strange things happening around the house that leads him to believe not everyone is who they appear to be.

There is an underlying theme pervading Get Out that seems almost too obvious at first. A black man in a predominantly white community feeling isolated and out of place isn't exactly breaking new ground but like everything in the film it all comes down to this sense of paranoia that seeps into ours and Chris' subconscious the longer he stays at the Armitage estate. We know that something is off with the Armitage family but is it that they are just being overly apologetic towards Chris out of white guilt or are they just as laid back and carefree as they appear? Even worse yet this nagging thought that there is something even more nefarious going on behind the scenes as we are introduced to the locals during very ominous party that seems to have no other reason than for everyone to meet Chris.

Rose's dad proudly introduces Chris to the predominantly white community.

Peele does an outstanding job keeping the audience on the edge of their seat the entire time Chris is in that house. We try to convince ourselves that Allison's mom (Catherine Keener), a professional Psychologist wants to hypnotize Chris and remove his smoking habit strictly due to being an over protective parent who doesn't want a man smoking around her daughter. But the way she goes about hypnotizing him and the manner in which she conducts herself during their session leads one to believe she has ulterior motives. The same goes for Allison's extremely unstable brother (Caleb Landry Jones) who wants to show Chris his best MMA moves by putting him in a headlock at the dinner table but is quickly shut down by Allison.

Chris' paranoia matches our own at this point which is only compounded by his close friend Rod (Lil Rey Howrey) whom he is in constant contact with and is convinced without a shadow of doubt that all the weirdness Chris describes to him is the direct result of all the white people turning all the black people into their sex slaves. The character of Rod is essentially the voice of the audience who tells Chris exactly what is on our minds the entire time. He tells him at the outset to not go and when he does arrive tells him to get out just as quickly. While he is more or less there for comedy relief, and he definitely provides some of the best lines in the film, his presence is needed to help give the audience that release we need after all the tension that builds up from Chris' side.

Not everyone are as they appear in this backwoods town.

Probably the best decision Peele made though is by not hiding anything from the audience. We see more and know more than Chris does which normally would be horror sacrilege because you never want your audience ahead of the protagonist. But here it puts us in the uneasy position as we see Chris putting together the pieces of the puzzle knowing full well that he is in danger. Every scene has an extra layer of tension over it because we know that Chris is in danger, we just don't know what kind of danger he is in and it is that one purposefully omitted detail that keeps us on edge. By far the greatest advantage of this approach is that Peele sets the audience up in advance for failure as all our predispositions we have been trained to expect through life and film are flipped on their head in favor of a reveal that is both clever and topical while still retaining plenty of horrifying moments to keep genre fans appeased.

I would be remiss not to acknowledge the huge contributions from the cast itself most of which are unknowns and/or character actors you might recognize for a vast array of other films. Daniel Kaluuya as Chris in particular has the entire film resting on his shoulders and he does an amazing balancing act of self awareness and restrained fear. The scene in which he is hypnotized is a standout with his recollection of the day his mother died which immediately creates a connection between him and the audience. The entire cast is top notch though with the Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener providing a disquieting tension in every scene they are in and the aforementioned Lil Rey breaking that tension every time we cut to him and his scramble to save his friend.


Chris is forced to reconcile with his past and his fearsome future.

Get Out is not exactly a horror film nor is it a comedy, it squarely falls into the realm of the black comedy (no, not that kind) where it is taking some very serious subjects in regards to race relations between different two ethnic groups that have a long and assorted history and adding a very sadistically satiric spin to it. Not many people can get away with that sort of thing but Jordan Peele finds that sweet spot that invigorates ones mind without insulting their intelligence and better yet doesn't fall into the pitfall of recycling stereotypes for simple shock value. This is one of those film going experiences that will linger long after you see it as you run through every moment over and over again in your head analyzing each detail looking for a deeper meaning. The surprising thing is that more often than not you will find it.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

I enjoyed every single minute of Jordan Peele's feature film directorial debut. There isn't one wrong beat during its swift runtime. Each reveal is quickly followed up by another reveal that keeps the audience guessing all the way up to its extremely satisfying conclusion and features a stellar performance from its lead as well as some well appreciated comedic moments to soften the blow. It serves as both social commentary and a twisted sort of pulp entertainment, two things that generally don't go together but somehow combine into something remarkable.

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