[divider]Jordan Peele’s debut film Get Out works not only as a timely bit of horror but a fantastic throwback to the slow burn psychological thrillers of the 1970s. The premise is simple enough, Chris is nervous about meeting his girlfriend’s parents at their lake house in upstate New York because he isn’t sure how they will react to their daughter being in an interracial relationship.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is a bit of a blank slate when we first meet him. He is undoubtedly nice but all of his actions seem calculated to avoid conflict. In many instances he remains silent in the face of blatant racism always complying and choosing the path of least resistance.
That becomes impossible when his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) invites him out to her parent’s house for the weekend. Rose is a mid-20s liberal who seems to understand what Chris is going through. She forewarns him that her father is going to try and be ultra-cool in front of him and assures him that he would have voted for Obama for a third term if he could.
Yet the closer they get to the house the more his sense of paranoia seems to go up. A sense of isolation permeates the film as the audience feels, like Chris, very alone even among a crowd of people. Peele is clearly an expert in horror films as you can see his homages to classics throughout the film. But the movie only tips its hat to movies like The Stepford Wives and Night of the Living Dead, it isn’t afraid to enter new territory.
Peele’s decision to hire mostly character actors instead of A-listers seriously helps the story. Not only are cast members like Bradley Whitford and Stephen Root at the top of their game but because they aren’t as well known it is easier for the audience to let them carry the story forward. Kaluuya is as powerful as he is because he’s still relatively new. That gives him an everyman quality that might have taken away from the overall message of the story had it been played by someone like Denzel Washington.
The only flaw in the film is Peele’s insistence on making the movie comedic. A light touch isn’t a bad thing in comedy, look at Cabin in the Woods, but when the laughs to do come they feel very out of place with the overall mood of the rest of the film. Thankfully he places his comic relief far away from the main action to the point where it almost feels like a totally different movie.
The movie itself is a slow but that, despite being labelled as a horror, isn’t that violent. Peele knows he doesn’t have to shock to get his point across and that more often what isn’t said is just as powerful. Considering this is Peele’s first film it is quite an impressive display. As he begins to spread his wings and become more comfortable in the medium who knows what else he is capable of producing.