Synopsis – A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.
My Take – Finally this one has released in the U.A.E cinemas!! I decided to see this film at the theater mainly due to the curiosity behind the massive critical (an impressive 8.3 rating on IMDb and an astonishing 99% on Rotten Tomatoes) and financial ($156.3 million and still counting on a budget of just $4.5 million) success of this Blumhouse Production. If you re-imagined ‘Meet the Parents’ for the horror genre, then this film is as close to what you’d end up with. Seriously, there is no better example of this truly surprising film by first time writer-director Jordan Peele, better known as one half of comedy due Key & Peele, a name you wouldn’t normally associate with horror/suspense films, which makes his effort all the more impressive. A timely entry in these cynical post Trump time, this culture clash horror comedy on the racial tensions i a piece of compelling entertainment, ensnaring the viewer with a rising intensity of stirring paranoia; it is a sly whip-smart satire of our current world wrecked day in day out with racial tension and inequality. How it never becomes top down heavy and preachy is sheer master-craft. Here, writer/director Jordan Peele has crafted a deeply disturbing, gripping and often hallucinatory thriller for our times, manifesting the often ‘right-on’ desires of white liberals to get in touch with black culture (be it through music, films or indeed presidents) into a story that drip-feeds its building menace. This film feels like the work of a very experienced craftsman who has seen a lot of classic horror films and truly wants to pay homage to them without slavishly copying or ripping them off while having a message behind it.
The story follows Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), an African American photographer, who is venturing out for a weekend trip with his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), to visit her family at her parents’ estate in the woods. Initially hesitant when he finds out that Rose hasn’t told her parents, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) about him being black, but she is quick to assure him that they are anything but racist. Although everyone including Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) seem friendly enough, things immediately look weird: the house is very isolated, the basement is off limits due to a ‘black mold problem’, and the only other black people in the house are the odd maid named Georgina (Betty Gabriel) & caretaker named Walter (Marcus Henderson), whose robotic behavior doesn’t seem to be noticed by anyone except Chris. It’s clear something’s off but is it just racial awkwardness or something more sinister going on here? The rest of the film shows how a trip which started out quite innocent devolves quickly into something brooding and terrifying. Seriously, with an immediately unsettling atmosphere, this film is a riveting watch right from the start. However, what it does best is patiently build more and more tension and mystery into the plot as it moves along. The opening act won’t have you on the edge of your seat, but it effectively establishes the strangely uneasy atmosphere of the big country house, something that plays a big role in making the following two acts work so well. This being a horror film (with some comedy elements of very black comedy), the audience knows Chris’ suspicions are likely correct, and the hints and strange events keep piling up (Dean is a brain surgeon and Missy is a psychiatrist whose expertise is hypnosis) but we don’t find out exactly what’s going until very late in the proceedings, and this guessing game (and its ultimate answer) are part of the film’s power. Well, I can see why this would be truly the worst nightmare of a black man (and really the worst nightmare for us brown skin people too). The racial aspects of the story are what makes this film so effective: without them, this would have been yet another installment in a long series of films where a seemingly nice family or close-knit suburban community turns out to harbor unpleasantness under the surface. But the race conflict isn’t an exploitative gimmick: Chris’s race is an integral part of the story. In this day and age, it’s safe to say a film featuring a black lead being victimized by a group of white folks could have been very incendiary, but the fact that director Jordan Peele is also African American adds an extra layer of credibility to the film and helps deflects accusations of being exploitative. Rather than being brash and confrontational, the film is surprisingly apolitical and doesn’t hit the viewer on the head with blunt racial allegories and heavy-handed caricatures. I love a good horror film, and this one really works on that level; there are jump scares, shocking turns of event, escalating terror, psychological abuse, brutality, a little gore, creepy atmosphere, and at least one scene that could be a little hard to watch for some people. As a horror piece, this film has it all & one could reasonably call this film more of a psychological thriller and it works on that level as well. My favorite scene was easily the odd hypnosis encounter that Chris has with Rose’s mother Missy. Not only is it a treat to get to see Kaluuya sort of one-on-one (I’ve been a fan of his ever since seeing him in Black Mirror and he just has this intense, vulnerable charm that I love), but the visuals they chose for his hypnotic state are brilliant and awe-inspiring and terrifying all at once.
Like Chris is falling backwards through some kind of open space with a much more viscous quality, we hear noises become muffled and the fear behind his eyes intensifies as Missy Armitage tells him that he is now “in the sunken place” — cue my whole week’s worth of shuddering. The hypnosis, which just seems like an extremely odd occurrence at first, becomes much more relevant later on as we start to piece together what is really going on behind the scenes in this seemingly calm, collected community. I think the reveal that Rose was in on it all along — first with Chris finding the photos of her past boyfriends, who she said had all been white, and then with Rose drawing out the process of passing her car keys off to him — was shocking, personally. You really believe that she’s innocent in all of this, but her complicity adds another layer of reflection on the issues of racism and seeming trusted allies as a whole. Writer-director Jordan Peele‘s debut film is assured and deliciously wicked, mainly as the film feels like an extended Twilight Zone episode. It is a potent genre blender, pushing many racism buttons, sending them up in a refreshing manner without being preachy. Peele‘s comedic roots are showcased here and the high-tensioned wire-act is neatly interspersed with some hilarious respites, which believe me, is much needed. Peele also achieved some great tonal shifts as the narrative easily slides out of comedy into horror and vice versa with a snap. I love narratives where I can’t guess the outcome and even though I could see some twists coming ahead of time, I never felt short-changed because the characters are so well- drawn and the situation so twisted. The film is also actually quite amusing at times, like the scenes with all the guests at the party are obviously satirical genius, turning what could be completely ordinary conversation into something both simultaneously hilarious and uncomfortably awkward. But the other big source of laughs comes in the form of airport security Rod (Lil Rel Howery), a TSA agent and Chris’ concerned best friend, who basically amounts to the film’s comic relief. Every scene he appeared in resulted in some fantastic audience participation in my screening. Crucially though, the film is never a comedy. Its humorous moments are used to heighten the uneasiness of the whole situation more than anything, offering brief respites from the non comfort. The only flaw which I felt hindered the overall subject was the oversimplification of the situations, especially in the scene where down Rose and Chris are getting ready for bed & Rose mentions every racist thing that the people did at the party & Chris just says, “Yup.”This film could have hit hard on the horrific feelings and realities that people face every day, which racists ‘group even think twice about even once. Coming to the performances, the film excels above many horror films with a talented and strong cast. Daniel Kaluuya leads the film with a quite exceptional performance and impressing with each passing minute as the paranoia within his character grows. Allison Williams is excellent too! She brought a certain nuance to the character. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are both devilishly charming and unnerving here, while Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson are appropriately creepy. They both have a stand-out scene where it becomes clear that all is not well with either them or the house they tend to. Lil Rel Howery is without doubt the standout supporting member; the comedic timing of his character and the relatable quality of his personality is exceptionally charismatic, adding a meaningful layer of hilarity to the already fascinating spectacle and appealing to wider audiences who would not instinctively connect with the archetypal horror genre. On the whole, ‘Get Out’ is an extremely influential, disturbing horror film with some great dosage of humor.
Directed – Jordan Peele
Rated – R
Run Time – 104 minutes