Directed by Jordan Peele
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford
Review by Jordan
“If I could, I would have voted for Obama for a third term”
One of the most harrowing scenes in Steve McQueen’s Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave featured traumatised, African American slaves being auctioned and separated in the pre-Civil War South. In a film that relied on historical fact over sensationalism to showcase unspeakable acts, this moment stood out as emotionally arresting.
Being a strange horror/thriller in the mould of The Stepford Wives with humour not dissimilar from its contemporary You’re Next, Jordan Peele’s Get Out will not be an Academy Award Winner (actually, I suppose the same might’ve been said for Suicide Squad but look what happened there), but, in drawing a tenuous link to the esteemed title above, clever writing and foreshadowing does turn an afternoon spot of family Bingo into something far more sinister.
This is the brilliance of Peele’s feature debut: as the first half of its theatrical trailer demonstrates, it works as more typical suspense fare, and as the second half then showcases, it uses the language of its genre to broach topics often left to the language of others. When at its best, it’s also pretty weird. At its most conventional, though, it seems far from this brilliance it introduces.
Daniel Kaluuya is terrific as the paranoid (probably for good reason) Chris. His shy jealousy over his attractive girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) hints at deeper emotional issues harboured from his youth, and his reactions to the Armitage family’s questionable hospitality are often crowd pleasing. That is, until he is hypnotised by Rose’s psychiatrist mother displeased with his smoking habits, and from there a wallpapered undercurrent of suppressed menace starts to shine through, and it couldn’t become more obvious that Chris needs to grab the keys, leave his gear and hightail it out of there than when the strangely-behaved, younger, African American partner of a family guest bleeds from the nose, exhibits a personality switch and lunges at him telling him to get out!
The more conventional structure takes place after all of this, as the film searches for a satisfying conclusion to an outstanding lead-up and instead re-treads familiar ground long established. It’s a revenge thriller, panicked escape and escalation of violence, and while still entertaining doesn’t continue the unique, exaggerated- to-the-extreme awkward family vibe it has done well to create.
When the mysteries are gone, it’s a fine horror/thriller, but when they’re still dominant it positions itself as a subversive cult favourite. Ultimately, Get Out is an impressive critical hit that will reverberate for years to come.