Jordan Peele Makes a Stunning Debut with Get Out
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After putting Key and Peele to bed, Jordan Peele has turned his attention to filmmaking. While Keanu was goofy and fun, in his directorial debut Peele has produced a harrowing film about race in America. While Peele is known for his comedy, Get Out is a horror movie above all else and it is genuinely terrifying.
Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) brings her black boyfriend Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) to meet her parents in a WASPy Long Island neighborhood. From the instant viewers meet her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener), something appears to be off. They are infuriating; completely unaware that their behavior which they claim to be progressive is condescending and, yes, racist. Rose’s father casually refers to Chris as his “man,” and makes the assumption that Chris wants to talk about racism just because he’s black.
While this is all very cringeworthy however, the family’s peculiar behaviour goes beyond awkward conversations. While working at the family home, two black individuals act as though they are brainwashed, speaking only about how well they are treated by the Armitages.
Rose’s mother is a skilled hypnotist and her father is adamant that Chris gives it a go. At least when her brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) arrives, he’s openly rude.
Rose is unaware that the weekend they chose coincides with an annual party. The guests here make Rose’s parents seem discreet. There is only one other black guest (LaKeith Stanfield from Atlanta), and he acts just as strange as the help. The only guest who seems normal is the blind Jim Hudson (Stephen Root). An alleged source of inspiration was The Stepford Wives, and that’s the most logical comparison that can be drawn from the movie. After a very tense hour, explanations start being made and then the horror really arrives.
Peele, being a comedian, adds plenty of humor into the film. This is mostly from scene-stealer Lil Rel Howery, playing Chris’ friend in the TSA Rod Williams, who is house sitting. This is Howery’s first big role and he runs with it, making every second he’s onscreen count. He reacts to all of the events (retold to him by Chris over the phone) the way we are in our heads.
Jordan Peele was clearly studying up on his horror films when he made this film. On his first outing, he directs like a champ, making a fancy estate as scary a setting as anything. He also leaves the audience with a lot to ponder. Obviously, once things start flying off the rails, the film can no longer be called totally realistic, but the themes are clear. Not many people want to appear racist, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is welcome to their home. Society has created a place for everyone, and Peele is showing how rigid that hierarchy is. Sometimes, it feels downright dangerous.
Williams shows another side of herself in the last act of the film, while Whitford and Keener provide the eerie calm of her parents. They act in a way that seems wrong, but hard to place in words. Kaluuya gives his character a sense of hopelessness and doom, as he slowly realizes things are more than odd at this place.
3.5 out of 4 dolphins.