GET OUT is my first five star rating of 2017. Jordan Peele has crafted a masterful piece of cinema that entertains, educates and gets better on a second viewing. I love films that find that beautiful balance of entertainment and start conversations you continue to have weeks later. GET OUT is also a film that heavily benefits from a second viewing. It is with this second viewing that you truly appreciate the masterful work that went in to the writing, performances and direction.
This is a tough film to review because I can't talk about many of the reasons that make the film so great. While I will remain spoiler-free, just know that there is so much more that I want to speak on but can't because it would ruin your first experience. I might write a second review for people going to see it for a second time.
Let's start with the film's trailer and it's shocking quality. Whoever cut that trailer deserves an Academy Award because it tells you all you need to know, excites you for the film but doesn't give anything away. When I first saw the sequence where the character was running quickly towards the lead actor of the film, I felt such a new level of anxiety. Another part of that shock was reading "And the mind of Jordan Peele." You know the name Peele from the hilarious comedy team, Key & Peele. One of the greatest bits they ever did was "Obama's Anger Translator." Incredibly written, hilarious and smart. I say it shocked me because I didn't expect a horror film from a comedian.
Before seeing "Get Out," I wondered how a "comedian" would handle a "horror" film. It wasn't until after the film ended that I realized how similar the two genres really are. I was having a conversation with a fellow critic where we discussed the similar reactions that both genres gain from audiences. While one is funny and one is scary, you're still grabbing a strong and real reaction from your audience. Years ago, I remember coming across a video where someone took Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING trailer and added happy music to it. "The Shining" is the scariest film I've ever seen so when I started laughing at the trailer, I was shocked. That's the beauty of "Get Out." There are so many sequences that will scare you but also sequences that will make you laugh. Jordan Peele could easily reverse any of the sequences. With the right music & editing, you could turn any scary moment in to a comedic sequence. So I guess saying that I was surprised by Jordan Peele directing horror film is partially wrong. I was pleasantly surprised how great the film was but now that I see how similar comedy & horror really are, it makes more sense to me.
As I said above, the film is a conversation starter. The film presents racism as an element of horror with the plot surrounding a black man named Chris (Played by Daniel Kaluuya) who is dating a white woman named Rose. Rose is bringing Chris home to meet her parents. At the beginning of the film, Chris is very worried because Rose hasn't told her family that her boyfriend is black. When they arrive at her parents' house, things are extremely strange. At this point, Chris and the audience have no idea what is going on. That's when the intrigue begins.
Now, this party scene is very important. It is a scene where Jordan Peele brilliantly displays a very important message. When Chris and Rose first arrive, you can tell that the father is overly stating things to prove he's not racist. For example, her father (played by Bradley Whitford), tells Chris he would have voted for Obama for a third term. When we get to the party, people are coming up to Chris and trying to connect with him. But here's the problem, they are trying to connect with him because of the color of his skin and not as an individual. For example, two of the party guests come up to Chris to talk about golf and the only golfer they mention is Tiger Woods. When I spoke to Jordan Peele about this, he said "All the white people around him at this party are kinda trying to come and connect to him on some black thing." He goes on to say "…they're being seen for their color first before being connected as an individual." (WATCH: Peele tells me that this "is proof that we are from a post-racial world": http://www.fox5dc.com/good-day/fox-beat/237114313-story)
That is just one great example of the film's ability to educate and start conversations. You have these incredible messages but you also have a highly entertaining piece of cinema. The film bounces back and forth between comedy and horror. The combination of both genres in a very smart way and really takes the film to another level. Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya are phenomenal. Again, it's hard to talk about their performances without spoiling anything but just know that when you see the film for a second time, you will see why the performances are even better than you think. The beauty of this film is that the second viewing is so much more rewarding for the audience. The first time around, your entertainment comes in the form of wondering what is happening. You will just sit there saying to yourself, "What the heck is going?" On the second viewing, you watch it for all the clues you missed the first time. That to me is just incredible writing and filmmaking. Peele purposely put easter eggs throughout the film for the viewer to look for on multiple viewings.
Another performance I want to point out is from Lil Rel Howery. He plays a TSA agent who is best friends with Kaluuya's character. His character, Rod, is absolutely hilarious and blends in this beautiful comedic relief to this insane story. His character watches Chris' dog when Chris goes to meet Rose's family. You could argue he's the most important character in the movie.
I'm so excited to see the future of Jordan Peele's filmmaking. He proved that he could pay homage to his favorite horror films while still creating a smart original story. Go see this movie! I give it 5 out of 5.
Jordan Peele: http://www.fox5dc.com/good-day/fox-beat/237114313-story