Get Out: A Review
Get Out is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele (Keye and Peele) who also wrote the screenplay. Starring English actor, Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, Get Out is a horror movie satire focused on racism. Borrowing elements from films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, Get Out skewers the pretensions of “white wine sipping” liberals by using the generational conflict between Boomers and Millennials. Get Out is also about identity and the importance of belonging.
It opens on a dark street lined with large houses behind well-trimmed hedges. We hear the tinny sounds of a song from the early twentieth century as a young black man emerges from the shadows. Looking over his shoulder, his phone to his ear, he asks, “Why meet here?” Like the music, the man is out of place; he knows it and so do we as a white sports car pulls up. He turns away as a figure exits the car, knocks him out and loads him into the hatchback. The music changes to something edgy. There’s danger ahead.
Next, we’re in a bakery. We see a tray of donuts as a young woman named Rose (Allison Williams) makes her choice. She and her lover, Chris, a successful photographer, are taking a weekend trip to meet Rose’s parents. Between kisses, Chris and Rose discuss her parents. “Do they know I’m black,” he asks. She tells him no, but as old-fashioned liberals, they’ll make him feel welcome. Rod, (Lil Rel Howery), a TSA agent and Chris’s best friend, warns him not to go — something doesn’t feel right.
But Chris goes and welcome him they do. Waiting on the steps of their comfortable New England home on well-tended acres, Dean, the neurosurgeon dad (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener), Rose’s psychiatrist mom, greet Chris warmly. But soon, we know that Rod is right when Chris sees the Stepford Wives behavior of the two black employees. After the veneer of geniality cracks when Rose’s obnoxious brother challenges Chris to a fight, Missy insists on hypnotizing Chris and gives him a command that can render him helpless.
The next day, despite Rose’s protests, Missy’s club, a collection of creepy old people, (see Rosemary’s Baby) meets in the garden. The only black club member is young, wears clothes that scream nerd and has a way of talking at odds with his race and age. Chris thinks he knows him. He’s the man kidnapped in the opening sequence. When inquisitive club members (one squeezes his bicep) treat Chris like a prize Pekinese, it’s time to leave. And what about Rose, nurturing, supportive Rose? Or is she? Chris isn’t sure and neither are we. But Rod is; when Chris calls him, he urges Chris to get the hell out of white wine-land. Then, things go south during a bingo game. Recalling the kidney auction in the movie, Coma, the game ends when a blind photographer who envies Chris’s talent, wins Chris.
The story kicks into full scare mode with Rod’s rescue plans and Chris’s efforts to escape. Missy’s command leaves Chris unable to resist the horror movie science of those who intend for Chris to no longer be Chris. His predicament reminded me of The Skeleton Key.
When he presents his “sex slave” theory to a trio of black cops, Rod’s pride in being a TSA professional suffers. Stung by their reaction, Rod takes matters into his own hands. Friendship and betrayal come into play and the movie becomes a gore fest. The ending is cathartic and satisfying because we care what happens to Chris.
The plot of Get Out is full of holes, most having to do with risks taken by the villains, but the racial satire aspect gives this film an unexpected bite it wouldn’t have if Chris were white, and Daniel Kaluuya’s ability to draw us in keeps us invested. His friendly, open face allows us to see his pain when it dawns on him that the woman he trusts and loves may have betrayed him.
As the parents, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are good actors doing their best to round their flat characters. Allison Williams is effective as the enigmatic Rose, but it was hard for me to buy her transitions in the end sequence. Lil Rel Howery as Rod is a welcome comedy contrast to the creep factor. His energy gives the film a needed boost.
I enjoyed this movie, but I wondered about the title. Is the message, “Get Out” meant for Chris or for Boomers (and those older) who refuse to leave the stage and join the audience? As for me, I’m already seated, popcorn in hand, looking forward to the new cast and the next story.