Aspiring professional photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya, the 'powerbike' rider from BLACK MIRROR) takes a deep breath and prepares to meet his girlfriend Rose Armitage's (Allison Williams) family at their sprawling estate over an extended weekend. He's understandably concerned that the white Armitages haven't specifically been told that he's black... but Rose assures him that there won't be any problem with that.
Indeed, the Armitage parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) seem quite overly ready to welcome the newcomer and are falling all over themselves with references to Jesse Owens and Barack Obama to make Chris feel "at home." Only the slovenly, drunken younger brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) feels free to indulge in stereotypes at the dinner table. Oh, and the black servants? Yeah, we know how that LOOKS and we feel bad about it, but it's REALLY not like that at all. And as long as you're here, perhaps Mrs. Armitage can use her mastery of hypnosis to rid you of a bad personal habit? And don't forget the big annual wing-ding--it's the social event of the year and it starts tomorrow!
The awkward conversations, the peculiar manners of the servants and the social calendar combine to be just a bit much for Chris, who tries to slip away for a little "me time," only to fall straight into the hypnotic trap of Mrs. Armitage in a truly masterful sequence...
GET OUT is the long-awaited solo writing-directing debut of comedian Jordan Peele, and the ad campaign did a great job of conveying the premise and the threat our hero faces without giving the game away completely. I walked in believing we were getting a STEPFORD WIVES deal in which hypnosis was used by the white villains in order to make "them" behave the way they'd rather they behave. Nope... it's a bit more complicated than that and GET OUT is all the better for it.
That said, Peele is clearly familiar with not only the STEPFORD premise but with other certain offshoots of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. And I'm specifically guessing HALLOWEEN III, as Peele makes near-identical use of the 'stinger' effect employed by the latter when robots would suddenly appear in the background of a shot; not to mention the inadvisability of letting a woman who's clearly not herself occupy your passenger seat when you're trying to make your getaway! (And on a personal note, the opening invocation of the old folk song "Run, Rabbit, Run" put me in mind of 1974's OPEN SEASON and led me to anticipate a 'hunting humans' movie: I have no idea if Peele actually saw that obscure Peter Fonda/Richard Lynch/John Phillip Law shocker, but extra kudos to him if he did... it's a hell of a pre-credits scene no matter what inspired it.)
Peele knows his horror as well as he knows his comedy, despite having far more experience in the latter. Of course there's the uneasy laughter as Chris squirms under the attentions of the older white party guests (even the token Asian gentleman immediately wants to hear his thoughts on 'the African-American Experience'), but we're also given the safety valve of Chris's best friend, TSA agent Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery), whose take on the events he can only hear about second-hand are often gut-bustingly hilarious: just try not to laugh even when he brings up Jeffrey Dahmer, but don't be so quick to dismiss him as mere comic relief, either. And most of the horror/suspense works equally well--okay, if it were COMPLETELY up to me, I might have left out a gratuitous 'reveal' at a certain moment, because surely most of the viewers would have figured that plot point out on their own by then; and if they didn't, then there was a better chance to spring the revelation just a few moments later.
For a film that makes no bones or apologies about serving racial tension as the main course, GET OUT nevertheless functions as all-access horror and satire that no genre fan should pass up.
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