In Get Out, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) takes her boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) to meet her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) for the first time at their rural estate. Chris, a young African-American man, is hesitant that Rose’s family will not be accepting. As the weekend progresses, the family’s bizarre behavior begins to lead Chris towards the real truth.
As many can attest, meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time is a stressful endeavor in general. When things start to get weird for Chris, he can’t decide if the increasingly odd behavior is a product of nervous energy from the parents. Or if he genuinely does not belong.
The first half of the film definitely leans into its horror roots, beginning with a prologue that includes a swirling tracking shot down a suburban road similar to the beginning of It Follows. From there, Peele introduces more and more bizarre events for Chris that fills him (and the audience) with unease and dread. The tension is cranked up until finally the film’s secrets are revealed and the film shifts into another direction that is more a mix of The Stepford Wives and any revenge thriller you have ever seen.
Although Kaluuya does much of the leg work – we will see more roles for him in the future, I’m sure – I think some recognition needs to be thrown towards the supporting cast. Williams, in her first film role, does a terrific job and Bradley Whitford is always game for a comedic horror movie. But it is LilRel Howery who steals the movie as Rod, Chris’ best friend who provides much of the comedic relief. When the film starts to lose its steam in the second half, it’s Howery who comes to the rescue.
It also needs to be said that Peele deserves a lot of credit for this. “Key & Peele” was great, but I did not expect this sort of control and attention to detail in a first film from someone who is known mostly for comedy. He is very assured in his ability to flip some notable horror conventions on their head – a black main character in a horror movie that is not expendable – as well as toy with audience expectation. Plus, it’s an unsettling and enjoyable film that has a sharp commentary on race relations that does not feel overtly preachy.
As with most horror movies, the best way to experience Get Out is to see it on the big screen. In my screening, early on an audience member screamed in pure terror at a rather innocuous jump scare which prompted the rest of the audience to laugh with (ok, mostly at) her. When the film switches into its final act, I found myself cheering and high-fiving the person sitting next to me.
Get Out is in multiple theaters across Raleigh.