When films are described and discussed, we have a tendency to pigeonhole them into categories, grouping those of similar style or genre together. Every now and then, projects come along that are so refreshingly original that it proves to be more challenging to pin them down in this way, and that is definitely the case with Get Out. Written and directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Jordan Peele, the story centres around Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American man who is invited by his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to spend the weekend at her parent’s house. Despite his reservations that he may be treated differently because of the colour of his skin, he arrives at the suburban country home of surgeon Dean (Bradley Whitford) and psychiatrist Missy (Catherine Keener), where he is introduced to their black servants.
Straight from the pre-titles sequence, an unnerving sense of threat and dread is established which will keep audiences on edge from beginning to end. The impeccable sound design by Michael Abels works brilliantly to elevate the creepy tone with alarming impact, and this homage to classic horror combines intelligently with the narrative’s chilling exploration of liberal racism in modern America. Peele’s background as an actor and writer lies very much in comedy and humour is implemented via Chris’ friend Rod, who provides comic relief as well as serving as a pivotal plot device as the mystery of strange goings on in the Armitage household unravel.
With a weaker cast, the development of the characters may have veered dangerously towards parody, yet Daniel Kaluuya et al handle the material brilliantly and the terror feels genuine throughout. We experience every weird encounter alongside Chris, and Kaluuya’s natural performance keeps us grounded in reality. Whitfield and Keener are fantastic in their roles, key in delivering the eeriest ‘meet the parents’ scenario in as long as I can remember. Perhaps most impressive is Allison Williams in her complex portrayal of streetwise Rose, adapting masterfully with the shifts in style of the story.
Jordan Peele achieves shockingly smart satire as well as shuddering trepidation with his remarkable directorial debut. His subversive vision is powerful and scarily topical, and is transformed into an intensely enjoyable cinema experience. With such an inventive and impressive first feature film, a sophomore slump may be on the horizon, but Get Out is a future cult classic he’ll always have to fall back on. As soon as you get out, you’ll want to get right back in.
See the trailer: