Although hardly conducive to reading this review, Get Out is a dish best served cold. Not knowing the ins and outs only heightens the intrigue and eventual WTF-Factor but the assumption here is that the trailer has been seen.
Get Out is intriguing from the outset and this is partly because of its pace. Like Louis Armstrong, it has all the time in the world. Rather than throwing you straight in to The Wicker Man country, we get the type of character development not typically associated with horror films. Chris, in a star-making turn from Daniel Kaluuya, is presented as accomplished, aspirational and altogether relatable, whilst his Caucasian girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams, taking a break from playing narcissism incarnated in Girls) portrays the realities of dating a “black-man” with heart. A visit to Rose’s parents’ house however, makes Chris wary of the prejudice he’ll potentially face. He has no idea.
Upon arrival, racial paranoia spirals from the father’s (Whitford) seemingly inadvertent, “I would have voted for Obama for a third term” to awkward and inexcusable exchanges, where Chris is physically pawed at and assessed as if he were a thoroughbred out for studding. These scenes cement Get Out as a truly unique viewing experience, where a garden party conversation can be as uncomfortable and cringe-inducing as the scene of a cranial lobotomy. Then the hypnotism starts. In a bid to help him stop smoking, Rose’s mother (Keener) offers to put Chris under, but he has no idea just how far under. Soon, Chris starts to notice that the few other black locals are acting out of place or even out of time. He begins to uncover the unexpected and the unimaginable.
Talking of the unexpected, Get Out is funny. Funny how? Like a clown. Like it’s here to amuse us. Director and writer Jordan Peele’s history with comedy acting comes to the fore and results in some genuine belly laughs. These moments are exclusive to the scenes featuring best friend/sidekick Rod (Lilrel Howery), who is convinced that, “I don’t know if you know this, but white people love making people sex slaves and shit.” Although at first disorientating, these scenes provide a lighter look at the issues of race. That’s not to say it’s all bants. It’s horrific. In a good way. Employing traditional jumps and scare tactics as well as tapping into the deep-seated fears of the human psyche ensures that it will continue to resonate long after viewing, hopefully with the viewer and within the film industry.
The topic of race ebbs and flows into film headlines, most recently with Samuel L. Jackson’s comments on black British actors (such as Kaluuya) dealing with black American issues and the “whitewashing” of Scarlett Johansson’s casting in Japanese Anime The Ghost in the Shell. Get Out’s innovative approach to tackling issues of race is both thought-provoking and alarmingly sobering. It leaves the audience walking out of the cinema trying to count the number of endearing white characters they’ve just watched. There’s none. Nought. Nil. Now imagine if that was the norm.