Get Out

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Jordan Peele, from the sketch comedy team of Key and Peele, makes his directorial debut in this horror film, and the debut is an impressive one.  With the exception of Split, horror movies have not had a great start to 2017 after an outstanding 2016, but perhaps this is a film that can reverse that trend.

In Get Out, African-American Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his Caucasian girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) are on their way to visit her parents, but Chris is nervous because she has not told her parents about Chris being black.  Despite her insistence that her parents would not have a problem with Chris, he is still worried about it.  When they arrive, Chris immediately starts feeling uneasy and uncomfortable with her father Dean (Bradley Whitford) and mother Missy (Catherine Keener) and that did not change when Missy offers to hypnotize Chris to help him stop smoking.

After a weird encounter with Missy one late night, Chris believes that she had, indeed, hypnotized him.  Things only got weirder as the Armitages throw a party with a crew of white people, making Chris even more on edge.  The appearance of another African-American at the party (Lakeith Stanfield) does nothing to assuage his concerns as the man acted extremely off-kilter.

As he starts to put the solution together on what was happening here, Chris begins to discover that there are way more sinister things going on with the Armitages than he ever would have guessed.

This film was extremely creepy and created a tone of suspense that carried throughout the film.  Some of the scenes were cringe-worthy, in a good way, as I found myself squirming in my seat once or twice.  There was one scene in particular that reminded me of a “nightmare juice” scene from Agents of SHIELD that was really difficult to watch.

Despite the uncomfortable moments, Get Out had its share of very funny scenes as well.  Jordan Peele showed his comedic side for years in his partnership with Keegan-Michael Key, and that side shone through several times in Get Out.  Now, some of the humor in the film felt a little forced, as if it did not fit and it was being shoehorned into the movie, however, the scenes with Chris’s friend Rob (“Lil Rel” Howery), a TSA security guard who is house sitting for Chris, were some of the best examples of humor in the film.

There were, as well, several moments of subtle satire in the film, dealing with the racial implications of the story.  The subtlety of these scenes were very solid, and I found myself laughing several times (though others in my theater did not seem to be finding it as funny as I did).  Peele wrapped the satire of the film within the social commentary that is in effect in Get Out.  They fit together seamlessly.

The performances were all excellent.  Daniel Kaluuya was just exceptional as Chris.  We see his entire gamut of emotions, from fear to confusion to anger.  You relate to him immediately, and you cannot help but root for him.  Allison Williams is great as Rose too.  They have a strong chemistry that helped carry the film for much of the early run.  Chris and Rose appeared to be a perfect couple and you wanted them to work out.  Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener were amazingly creepy and kept you off balance for much of the film.  Another standout performance was from Betty Gabriel, who played the “housekeeper” Georgina.  You could never tell what was going on with this woman and she had some of the best facial acting from the film.  Because of these performances, you as an audience member felt that tension, almost a paranoia, about what exactly was going on there.

The ending of the film was surprisingly effective, and I thought it was heading one way when it took a different path.  I appreciated the end of the film, but I might have liked something more.

There were some initial pacing issues, as the first part of the film did move kind of slowly, and not all of the humor fit.  Despite that, there was a ton to enjoy here.  Jordan Peele showed himself a skillful director and certainly told an original and creative story, something that we could use more of in Hollywood today.

4.4 stars

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