Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Reel Review: GET OUT

Trying to do much in one film can be a kiss of death for rookie and veteran filmmakers. When a movie tries to be about many things, it can often wind up being about nothing. This was the challenge for TV sketch artist Jordan Peele and his directorial debut in his horror-thriller, GET OUT.

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) are an interracial couple going to meet Rose’s parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) for the first time. Upon arrival, Chris experiences some odd happenings with Rose’s parents, the house-staff, and their rich friends.

To say more about the plot would be criminal, as GET OUT is a film that is loaded with secrets. There is a great deal of mystery going on here; ranging from the odd behavior by the groundskeeper and the maid, the rich and snooty old-money friends, to some creepy acts done by the parents. The big secret is revealed in small peeks, and when the curtain is finally pulled back it clicks together in a nice “ah-ha” moment which makes us want to see the film again to really appreciate the clues.

Jordan Peele, who also wrote the script, isn’t content to just let his film be a mystery thriller. He is playing with themes of race and social divide, as Chris is suspicious (with good reason) of Rose’s parents approval or disapproval of their relationship, and the encounters with the rich friends speaks greatly to how far apart society can divide people. The themes and storylines Peele is playing with are well balanced and never become preachy, and give us just enough to at least get our wheels turning.

GET OUT is at its core a horror movie, and the scares are perfectly executed. There are a handful of old-fashioned jumps with loud noises, and one in particular involving an outdoor scene at night is enough to make anyone have an accident. There are also some scenes involving hypnosis which are very un-nerving, and anyone who has a fear or sensitivity to being smothered will have trouble watching. The overall atmosphere of the film is creepy with the feeling that there is always something wrong, and it works beautifully. The pacing and off-ness going on is something Kubrick might have tried.

Acting is very good. Daniel Kaluuya does great work in showing a lot of tension and dread, and scenes where he is asked to not blink for long periods of time are uncomfortable to watch. Allison Williams, in her first feature film, is also impressive. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are excellent as always, and the show is stolen by Lil Rel Howery as Chris’ aloof best friend who gets suspicious of the trip.

With as much as GET OUT has going on, Jordan Peele seems to be trying very hard to avoid any clichés that any horror or socially-conscious film would hang their hat on, and for the most part he succeeds. Despite being fresh and new, the film still can’t help but to fall into the worst horror cliché in the book towards the end; characters resolving everything via fistfight and shotguns. It’s a minor glitch on a thrill of a film, and a breath of fresh air for the horror business.


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