Review by J.T. Johnson
I actually thought “Get Out” would be a good movie. Jordan Peele, better known as one half of the comedy sketch team “Key & Peele”, is a good writer and some of their sketches have even included elements from horror films such as “The Shining”. What I did not know is that Peele has written and directed one of the best horror films that I’ve seen in awhile.
Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is heading out to spend the weekend with his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) and her family. The Armitage clan includes her parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) and Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones). At first, it seems that Chris only has to deal with the family’s “polite” racism, the kind where Dean tells Chris he would have voted for Obama for a third term and uses the word “thang”.
Soon, though, Chris begins to notice that the only other black people he meets at the Armitage household act very strange. Meanwhile, Missy is a psychiatrist and she offers to help Chris stop smoking through hypnosis. Chris declines the offer, but soon he will learn the dark secrets of the Armitage family.
The movie’s horror does not come from a series of jump scares cheaply thrown together to try and force you into being scared. Once Chris and Rose arrive at the house, there is a genuinely creepy vibe throughout the rest of the picture. Everything seems just a little bit off and when the few jump scares do occur, they feel earned rather than cheap.
The story also has plenty of comedy in it as well. Some of it is from Chris’ bewildered amusement at the people he meets as he is trying to figure out what the hell is going on around him. Most of the comedy, however, comes from his friend Rod (Lil Rey Howery), a character that steals every scene he is in and a character you can’t wait to see more of as the movie progresses. Peele knows that any good horror film contains a healthy dose of comedy and in this movie, both work seamlessly together.
Beyond the horror and comedy, there is some interesting social satire going on in the movie. Peele addresses racism in a realistic way, but you never feel like he is trying to preach to you. Social commentary is another element that can make a horror movie even better and the message here is as genuine and scary as the horror itself.
Another element that can make a good horror movie shine are the performances. Kaluuya plays Chris as a rather calm individual and even though he may come off as a bit bland at first, you soon realize that his character is shutting off certain emotions as a shield for past traumas. Kaluuya slowly opens up Chris’ shell and makes him a genuine lead character you want to root for as he tries to solve the bizarre mystery behind Rose’s family.
Whitford and Keener are great as Rose’s parents. Again, you know something is off about the two characters, but at first they just come off as parents that are genuinely concerned about their daughter’s new boyfriend. The only member of the family that comes off as creepy from the start is Jeremy, played disturbingly well by Jones.
The movie does start off a little slow before Chris and Rose get to the Armitage house. This is only a small gripe because once they do arrive at the house, things get interesting quickly as you try to answer the questions presented by the movie. One thing is for certain, I was genuinely surprised by how good “Get Out” was and it is definitely one of the best horror films that I’ve seen over the past decade.