Get Out (2017)

Right off the bat, I’ll admit that I’m not a ‘comedy’ guy. Don’t get me wrong, I like fun and laughter as much as the next dude, but when it comes to my visual entertainment, comedy is not my default, as any quick perusal of my past reviews will confirm. So, with that in mind, it’s been fairly easy for me bypass the comedic hi-jinks of writer / director Jordan Peele up to this point, though I am keenly aware that many people out there are very much down with the work he’d previously done with Keegan-Michael Key on the sketch show Key and Peele, and with that wacky-looking 2016 action-cat flick Keanu (which I have not seen). But as is the case with many a comedic performer, Peele also seems quite in touch with an inner darkness that has now brought him squarely into the horror / thriller genre, as evidenced by this little flick popping out of the woodwork in 2017 and surprising the hell out of everyone, to the tune of over $100 million at the domestic Box Office, which incidentally is the first time an African American writer / director has hit that financial threshold with a debut film (Congrats, Mr. Peele!). But as popular as this one got, it kept getting bypassed by lil ole me…till last night. Having just upgraded our Crave subscription, my fiancé and I were looking for something to fix our peepers on, on a lazy and hazy Friday night, and lo and behold, this title popped up in the Recent Additions category. Given the strong word-of-mouth hanging over Get Out, we easily agreed that it would be our first flick of the evening, as I was genuinely curious to see if the hype surrounding it was genuine or just some marketing ploy bullshit.

Get Out focuses on ‘Chris’ (Daniel Kaluuya, in a role that should definitely get him noticed), a young African American photographer who reluctantly agrees to travel with his Caucasian girlfriend ‘Rose’ (Allison Williams) to meet her family for the first time at their sprawling, out-of-the-way property. At first, after meeting her parents ‘Dean’ (Bradley Whitford) and ‘Missy’ (Catherine Keener), everything seems fine and ‘Chris’s initial fears of possible bigotry seem MOSTLY unfounded…again, at first. Then the rest of the family arrives unexpectedly and things take a bizarre turn after a chance late-night encounter with ‘Missy’, which leaves ‘Chris’ a changed man. Things are definitely not what they seem and the more he witnesses and experiences, the more ‘Chris’s instincts tell him to get out.

We both really liked this movie and it’s easy to see why it got the acclaim that it did. Jordan Peele definitely has talent when it comes to the Written Word and the script he cobbled together for this genre gem is a tight, self-contained little tale that carries along on a tangible undercurrent of dread, while also having just enough subtle comedy scattered throughout to give the audience a ‘steam valve’ respite when the suspense and weirdness start getting heavy…which they most certainly do. We also appreciated some of the sleight-of-hand he employed for the sake of misdirection, which was effectively used more than once. There are certain plot points that SEEM to be heading in directions that could’ve been just plain lazy or uninspired but, at just the right moment, Peele yanked the rug out and presented an alternative that cleverly turned the situation intriguingly upside down. One of these elements that verged close to being too on-the-nose was the use of racism as a device and just when it APPEARED that Peele was going to go heavy-handedly (maybe even getting a lil preachy-like?) in THAT direction, he shifted gears at exactly the right moment and presented something alternatively nefarious that didn’t use blatant bigotry as it’s primary motivator. At one point while we were watching, I remarked that is could almost be a Twilight Zone / Outer Limits-type of story, which came together in my coconut when I remembered that the newest iteration of The Twilight Zone was coming to us with Peele heavily involved in its resurrection.

On a technical level, everything was where it needed to be. The cinematography was no frills but still just stylish enough to get me curious about future genre entries from Peele, like his upcoming flick Us. It’s been said that The Silence of the Lambs played a big part in influencing certain composition choices and having now seen Get Out, that inspiration is readily apparent, where the use of specific in-your-face close-ups for dramatic effect are concerned. Not to get all spoilery here, but hypnosis plays a bigger part than I was expecting and the way those scenes played out were surprisingly innovative and engaging, both on a story level and in the visual presentation.

In the spirit of fairness, I always try to acknowledge any short-comings that show themselves to me in a film but honestly, there’s not much to bitch about here. I did find that one character, the undeniable ‘comedic relief’, had a couple moments that were simply there for a laugh that did go on a touch longer than they needed to, but luckily, most of his material was genuinely funny when it was rapid-firing at the audience. There was also a moment early on in the movie that didn’t seem to serve the overall plot in any meaningful way and, in retrospect, came off like a cheap jump-scare. But seeing as how Get Out chose to NOT rely on an overabundance of lame tactics like that (as MANY other genre flicks are guilty of), I can easily let it go.

All in all, I’m happy to report that Get Out mostly lived up to the hype and was a tense little story that made solid use of limited locations and budget, with a capable cast to bring it all to life. As a directorial debut for Jordan Peele, this is a project that he has every right to be proud of (much like John Krasinski and his own feature film debut A Quiet Place), especially since Get Out surpassed $100 million domestically in takings on a roughly $5 million budget, with eventual earnings sitting at over $255 million world-wide! There are some legit surprises that pop up over the course of the 1 hour 44 minute run-time and the flick didn’t once outstay its welcome. We were both happy with what we had seen when the end credits finally rolled and can easily recommend this one to fans of clever thrillers that don’t over-extend themselves in their efforts to shock the viewer. Get Out is a flick that builds upon what it lays out and does so well, keeping the audience guessing as to what the hell is going on and, when all is revealed, gives the characters fates befitting what was set up before hand. Don’t get out of seeing Get Out!

 

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