Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Stars: Allison Williams, Daniel Kaluuya, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener
Meeting the parents. We’ve all done it. It is, perhaps, one of the most nerve-wracking events in a new relationship. Adding race into that equation ups the ante. That’s precisely where we begin with Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a photographer, preparing to travel to the country to meet the family of Rose (Allison Williams), his girlfriend of five months. His white girlfriend. Naturally, Rose reassures Chris it will all go smoothly, but Chris is apprehensive and he should be.
Get Out is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, who also wrote the screenplay. Peele is best known for his work in comedy so the assumption this film would be a spoof is an easy one to make. In fact, the premise of Get Out could just as easily have been done as a full-fledged comedy, but Peele takes the story one step further and, while there is a great deal of satire, this is a legit thriller from start to finish.
When our couple arrives at Rose’s family home, Chris is created with enthusiasm by her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener), a neurosurgeon and a hypnotherapist. Rose’s father goes a bit overboard in trying to prove just how accepting he is with this pairing by using slang, albeit inappropriately, and declaring he would have voted for Obama for a third term, if he could. Rose’s mother seems a bit sedate, but that balances out the animated antics of Rose’s father. You can’t help but snicker. Still, there is an air of unease about the situation. Chris feels it and so does the audience.
Rose’s brother (Caleb Landry Jones) appears for the family dinner and makes everyone uncomfortable with his backhanded complements and thinly-veiled racist comments. The family also employs two black servants, both of whom roam the house and grounds like a couple of zombies. Chris is just hoping to get through the family’s annual gathering. However, the party guests consist of primarily older white men and women who take too much of an interest in Rose’s new boyfriend.
As events unfold, the suspense builds. Get Out relies on a lot of misdirection and it’s fantastic. Peele doesn’t shy away from the familiar horror tropes, but they’re used so well, you’ve been had before you realize it. You will question almost everything and everyone during the duration of the film.
The serious and awkward tension is broken by Lil Rel Howery as Chris’ best friend, Rod, a TSA agent whose jokes about a black man visiting his white girlfriend’s family turn into full-fledged paranoia. The comic relief is occasionally needed to offset the serious tone and it’s woven so well into the tapestry of the story, it never feels forced or out of place.
Opening nationwide (USA) today, Get Out is the type of film you should go into knowing very little of. It is also a film that plays best with an audience for full effect.