Get Out Is Funny, Unnerving, And Disturbingly Real

Opening with an attack that bears an unmistakable resemblance to the notorious 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, Get Out makes it immediately apparent that it’s far more rooted in real world issues than your typical escapist horror film. This sequence also strikes a perfect balance of eerie unease, uncomfortable humour, and visual precision, three virtues that are refreshingly present throughout.

While Jordan Peele’s script is full of insightful observation and dread-inducing detail, this is ultimately undermined somewhat by a late-film detour into genre film conventionality. However, Peele’s work as a director is a revelation, suggesting a promising future in the world of horror—and beyond.

Following the opening sequence, we meet Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams), a relatively new couple on the cusp of their first weekend visit to meet Rose’s parents. Complicating matters slightly, the white Rose has yet to tell her parents—played memorably by Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford—that Chris is black, causing him some mild anxiety. While Rose reassures Chris that there’s nothing to worry about, he quickly detects oddities everywhere, from her mother’s preoccupation with hypnosis to the bizarre, boundary-crossing behaviour of her brother (Caleb Landry Jones). As additional guests gather for the weekend festivities, Chris becomes increasingly concerned by the robotic behaviour of every African-American he encounters, sensing that his girlfriend’s family may be luring him into a terrifying, identity-erasing nightmare.

The greatest triumph of Get Out is its premise, which taps into a timely and fertile source of paranoia: the understandable anxiety many black Americans have about the intentions of white Americans. For roughly two thirds of the film, we stay in uncertain territory with the polite surface corrupted by an undeniable sense that something is amiss. Unlike most contemporary horror films, Get Out effortlessly delivers mystery, intrigue, and credible behaviour, though the film’s big twist—which we won’t reveal here—proves to be somewhat frustrating. Although this development raises the stakes and throws everything into disarray, it quickly drains the film of its complexity. As the problematic finale unfolds, racially sensitive viewers will either embrace the cathartic thrill of watching a black protagonist challenge his white oppressors or be left frustrated by Peele’s decision to discard nuance and embrace a more straightforward, formulaic approach.

But even if you’re left frustrated by the final act’s shortcomings, there’s no denying that the conclusion is salvaged by supporting player LilRel Howery, who comes out of nowhere to emerge as the film’s surprising MVP, delivering absurdist comic relief when it’s needed most. In the end, Get Out falls just short of the instant classic status that initially seems within reach, but Peele has delivered an accomplished directorial debut that brings a welcome dose of humour and topical outrage to a genre that too often settles for jump scare frivolity. If you have a serious interest in horror and/or race relations, this is essential viewing.

Get Out arrives in theatres today. If you read this review, you already know more than enough, but don’t let that stop you from watching the trailer below.