Jordan Peele’s new work is not comedy, but a fresh take on psychological horror in his directorial debut, “Get Out.”
“Get Out” stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington, a young African-American photographer who travels with his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), to finally meet her parents at their family home for the weekend. When this film picks up, the interracial couple is packing for their stay at the Armitage family home in rural New York. Chris is initially fearful of Rose’s family’s perception of him, since he is black, but she reassures him that it is not an issue and that her family loves black people. Once they arrive at the very nice estate, Rose’s parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) greet him kindly and all seems to be fine—possibly too fine.
As the weekend progresses, things begin to become progressively more eery, with the home being managed by two African Americans, who seem to be automated in their interactions with Chris and add suspense to the unsettling nature of this film. Furthermore, the next day is the annual reunion of the Armitages and all their friends. This scene is particularly haunting, as Peele brilliantly weaves casual racism into the everyday conversation of these people, as Chris and the audience both try to figure out why seemingly everyone is acting so bizarre.
“Get Out” unravels its plot at a refined, slow burn, taking the necessary time to build ample tension and suspense before things start to go awry. The acting is fantastic, with standout performances from Kaluuya and Lil Rel Howery, who plays Chris’ hilarious best friend and TSA officer, Rod. Keener was especially creepy and mysterious in her role as Rose’s mother and professional psychiatrist. The numerous twists this film presents are surprisingly compelling and act as original additions to the horror genre.
For a directorial debut, Peele deserves a lot of credit for what he accomplished with “Get Out.” His longstanding comedic background is very evident in this film, with Rod adding lots of humor throughout the film; however, the comedy is kept in-check very well for this dramatic thriller. The plot elements are not entirely new, as Peele admits to some previous influences, like “The Stepford Wives,” which has some very similar devices that we see in “Get Out.” The shots and music are particularly stunning, as both compliment the other in creating a tense and fulfilling story from start to finish, especially the opening and closing song.
While “Get Out” is sure to deliver some scares for the audience, I appreciated Peele’s sharp infusion of social commentary into this film. From the start, he paints this fictional world to be a mirror image of our modern world, with widespread racism and judgement so deeply-rooted in our culture, that almost no one recognizes it—except the victims, of course. I felt challenged leaving the theater to really focus on my actions and perceptions of other people, since this film deftly highlights the extremes of racism in new and unconventional ways. “Get Out” starts the conversation about race and society in inventive ways that leave the audience satisfied, but also struck by its thought-provoking messages of diversity and inclusion in our ever-expanding global community.