Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is about racism and social injustices, but not of the Nazi, alt-right variety. Rather, his film Get Out focuses on the ways middle-class white liberals act and the things they say that in turn make black people feel so uncomfortable. From the “I would’ve voted for Obama a third time if I could” comment, to the “I love golf” and immediate mention of Tiger Woods, to calling a black guy, “my man!” — Peele wants to show us how some white folks just have no chill.
Regardless of intention, the differences in how the movie’s white characters treat Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a black male going to meet his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time, prove how this liberal ignorance still festers racist overtones. While Rose’s parents (played by veterans Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are hosting a party, Chris is subjected to even more incredibly uncomfortable social situations where his race is both not a problem, but also something that can’t entirely be ignored by the guests (who are the whitest people to have ever walked the earth). Throughout his time there, Chris realizes that the only black people in sight are the groundskeeper, Walter, and the maid, Georgina, whose blankness and wide-eyed stares give off some serious Stepford Wives vibes. When he meets the only black guest, a young guy dressed to the nines who’s dating a white woman twice his age, Chris starts to get severely creeped out. Despite not being the only black guy there, all of the attention still seems to be focused on Chris and Chris alone.
From a social standpoint, Get Out raises the bar for society’s ongoing racial dialogue by changing the focus in which we view race. This is clearly the strength of the film and its primary objective. From a horror perspective (though I would argue this movie is more of a Thriller, despite its marketing), it’s not as strong, but it doesn’t falter either. Peele avoids tired tropes, keeps tacky jump-scares to a minimum, and only uses gore when it packs the most punch. While I didn’t find the twists to be all that twisty or the scares to be all that scary, the premise was a great vehicle to force the audience to readdress their own views on race and, perhaps, show white liberals the importance of being more cognizant in how they treat people and communicate with them. The film clearly has an agenda, and an incredibly important one given our current social- and political-climates, and it largely succeeds on delivering its message.
That said, Get Out leaves any sort of pretension by the wayside, providing some light laughs along the way. Lil Rel Howery damn near steals the show as Chris’s friend Ron who starts to suspect something has gone amiss. He delivers gold line after line every time he’s on screen. Erika Alexander (Living Single) also gets some laughs as a detective who doesn’t buy Ron’s theory that Rose’s family are up to some weird, brainwashing, sex slave business. Both actors completely nail it.
You should go see Get Out (and do it now before it gets too hyped). It’s socially relevant, yes, but its fearless stance on race doesn’t overturn the fact that it’s also entertaining, well-acted and masterfully directed. But if we’re going to call this a “horror” film, I would have it liked it to push genre boundaries just as hard as it pushed social ones. Grade: B+