Soooooo, “Get Out.” Wowzas. It’s great, and pretty much everyone knows it’s great and have already talked about its greatness, so it feels a bit fruitless to reiterate what everybody’s already saying. But I’ve got a deadline and this is what I chose to see this week, so sorry! It’s happening!
(Now that I’ve written that, “Sorry! It’s happening!” feels like something writer/director Jordan Peele probably had to say to an ungodly number of sensitive white people while making this movie. But I digress).
“Get Out” follows photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) as he heads out with his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her family. But on the family’s secluded estate things start to get wacky real fast, and Chris finds himself the target of a terrifyingly believable cult conspiracy.
Anyone who’s seen the trailer knows that race is the not-so-subtle motivator of this movie’s horror. Watching it made me feel bad for the shit that Peele must have received and is certainly now receiving about the movie’s race politics. It directs its criticism to those pinnacles of smug uppityness, casually racist liberals. You know, the kind of people who lean left and have a couple of black friends so they claim to “get” the black experience? Yeah.
It’s a stroke of genius, really, because clearly Peele knows his audience. Klan members aren’t going to see “Get out,” but self-aggrandizing white liberals are! How clever of him to reel us in with the promise of self-congratulation and then turn the tables! It made me remember every ignorant or accidentally hurtful thing I’ve ever said, which sucked, on the one hand, but also reminded me that it’s important to have one’s head forcefully extracted from one’s butthole sometimes.
It’s also hugely effective as a horror film. Peele has a great sense of atmosphere and timing that seeps over from his comedy career with Keegan-Michael Key– comedy and horror cross paths a lot formally so it’s really no surprise–, and Kaluuya grips with a controlled performance that perfectly conveys all his confusion and terror. Williams is equally excellent, as are her parents, played with expert upper class Trying To Be Cool-ness by Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford.
It also masterfully snuggles its jokes right up next to the horror and lets it release us from all the darkness long enough for us to catch our breath. Comedian Lil Rel Howery takes a spin as Chris’s buddy Rod, a TSA agent who butts head with Chris about the trip even before the bad stuff starts happening. His presence is reassuring and allows us room to unload our tension, and most importantly, allows us to enjoy the film.
That’s what “Get Out” comes down to, after all. Sure, it’s smart and worthy of attention beyond its enjoyment factor alone, but it’s political in its lovability too. In the end, me and the other self-aggrandizing white liberals in my audience laughed right along with the black viewers, and while we (hopefully) all walked away with a refreshed desire to grow our perspectives, nobody’s feelings were hurt. Unity win, Jordan Peele style.