Creepy Horror Done Right
Actor and comedian Jordan Peele is best known for his recently-ended comedy sketch show Key & Peele and the basic premise for his new movie Get Out sounds like ripe material for a sketch. The concept of someone taking their significant other of a different race home to meet their parents has certainly been mined for comedy before, but for his first movie behind the camera, Peele decided to go in a different direction. Taking his inspiration from movies like Night of the Living Dead and The Stepford Wives, the writer/director instead gives us a nerve-wracking, creepy horror flick of the first order, while still remembering to give us a break every now and then with some perfectly timed comic relief.
After a single-take prologue hooks us in, the movie introduces us to lovers Chris and Rose. Rose is about to take Chris back home to her family estate to meet her parents for the first time and Chris is nervous about how her white parents will react to him being a black man. She persuades him that it will not make a difference to them, but once they arrive he immediately begins to feel an eerie vibe from the entire situation. Things get especially weird after Rose’s mother, a psychotherapist, hypnotizes him the first night. It is supposedly to help him quit smoking, but Chris soon begins to suspect that her motives are much more devious.
Chris’ unease is not helped by the fact that the only other black people around are the family’s two servants, each of whom acts very mysteriously. When the family has a big party on their property the next day, Chris begins to feel as if he is on display. He couldn’t be happier to see a friendly face in the form of another black man around his age, but he is even more unnerved that this man not only acts like the rest of the older privileged white people at the party, but that he is seemingly married to a woman about thirty years his senior. When he tries to take a picture of this man to send to his friend Rod, the man charges at him and warns him with the words of the movie’s title.
All of those plot details were in the film’s trailer and to say any more would be a disservice to the movie’s many surprises. Suffice it to say, the movie takes it where you might expect and then goes much further beyond that.
Get Out is an impressive accomplishment by Peele. Not only does the movie entertain throughout, but it is brilliantly constructed. Seemingly insignificant actions and pieces of dialogue that might feel immaterial early in the film come into focus as the story progresses. Even character actions that might make sense early in the film for one reason—such as Rose’s interaction with a police officer—turn out to have an entirely different motivation behind them once the full plot is revealed. The movie also does an excellent job of working relevant social commentary into its genre trappings, tackling very real issues of racial prejudice and oppression in an entertaining and understandable way using both its horrors and its comedy.
And as scary and creepy as this movie gets, Peele does not forget to add some comic relief when we most need it. The movie actually has a wonderful mix of scares and laughs. He has said that horror and comedy have a lot in common, including their reliance on timing, and he could not have timed the comedy much better than he does here. Right when the tension needs to be alleviated, we are given a short breather, usually in the form of LilRel Howery’s Rod. A TSA agent and friend of Chris’s who is taking care of his dog while he is away, Rod and his antics are the perfect foil to the creepy, tension-filled drama going on back at the Armitage estate. And he’s not a throwaway character either, as he continues to become a bigger part of the story as the movie goes on.
Get Out is a horror thriller that transcends its genre and becomes a must-see entertainment. It is a wild ride that will have you equally clinging to the edge of your seat, jumping out of it, and falling off laughing. Already proven to be a talented actor, comedian, and writer, Jordan Peele proves with Get Out that he is also a very talented film director. It will be interesting to see what he tackles next.
Get Out is rated R for “violence, bloody images, and language including sexual references.” The movie mostly scares with tension and a major creepiness factor, but there is definitely enough violence and bloody images to warrant the rating.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Get Out.