Jordan Peele breaks away from successful TV sketch series' to direct his first ever full movie feature. Fans of his won't be surprised to hear that Get Out is a satire of various genres with a lot to say on the world we live in today. Skins' very own Daniel Kaluuya is Chris, one half of a young interracial couple invited to meet his girlfriend Rose's (played by Girl's Allison Williams) family for the first time. If you have seen or head anything about this film, you will know that everything is not as it seems.
When I first saw the trailer for Get Out a while ago I hadn't heard about it before, and immediately dismissed it as just another bog standard horror churned out for some easy dollar. Although I do enjoy the genre when it's done well, there's too much dross and only 2014's It Follows and The Babadook have made any sort of impression on me in recent years. The trailer sold it as a straight forward join the dots horror with lots of jump scares, and while it does have plenty, it's Peele's commentary on race, society and everything in between that makes it stick out from the crowd. He does so with the satirical humour that fans of his will be accustomed to, and I found it a lot of fun to watch. Many of the jokes hinge on Chris's interactions with Rose's family and their friends, and their over-the-top attempts to hide an underlying racial prejudice. Her Dad (a dead ringer for David Fincher) "would have voted for Obama a third time" if he could, and a family friend's favourite golfer has always been Tiger. It's extremely cringe worthy and funny in equal measure, and Peele's succeeds in putting across the awkwardness he said he often feels as the only black man in the room. Peele manages to do a pretty good job of balancing the themes of humour and horror for the most part although I did feel it jarred a little in the final third (but I'm being a little nitpicky there).
Following a brilliant opening sequence (that may have been done in one take - and if so, that's superb) the film's stall is set out very clearly as a horror/thriller. Following a road-kill incident akin to The Invitation (2015) and an uneasy confrontation with a police officer, we're stuck at the isolated Armitage residence. Rose hasn't told her parents beforehand that her new boyfriend is black, and there's plenty of awkward overcompensation from their part - made even worse by the fact they have two black servants: Walter and Georgina. That both are acting very strange and robotic only adds to the film's ever-building sense of unease until dark secrets are revealed and the film goes full slasher. That's not to say there still isn't that vein of humour throughout. Most of this come from Lil Rel Howery - Chris' best mate, and go-to man for fresh/hilarious perspective. A stand up comic by trade, I really wouldn't be surprised if we began to see a whole lot more of this guy as he stole every scene he was in and I really enjoyed his performance. As the film makes it's big plot reveal the story gets extremely silly, but I should hope it's earned a suspension of belief from the audience by that point. That daftness is held together by a brilliant central performance by Daniel Kaluuya, and the suitably scary family - even if Caleb Landry Jones (playing the brother) appeared to have been told so many times that he looks like a cross between Johnny Depp and Scream's (1996) Skeet Ulrich that he decided to channel both in his performance too - it got very annoying very quickly.
Peele's film is a 15 rating but I felt it actually skimped a bit on the gore (I can't believe that it has the same rating as Logan for example) and the finale felt a tad soft as a result. I also thought they missed out on a great opportunity for an ending that would have stuck in the memory - see spoiler notes for more on that. Get Out's original motives, themes and use of humour offer a fresh perspective on the plot's largely typical horror formula. Despite bolting at every jump scare (because I'm a wimp), I wouldn't say I was ever properly scared as I was watching something like It Follows (2014). Both are being credited with subverting tired horror tropes and holding a magnifying glass on the world we live in. Bret Easton Ellis' recent interview with Mick Garris they touch in horror movies and how they are often a reflection of the fears of that time. Garris felt this would be the first of a lot of good horrors in this new Trump era. If this is the first of much to come then it's a good time to be excited about horror, if not the world it's inspired by. With it's 99% Rotten Tomatoes rating you may be expecting a classic, and as good as it is I don't think it quite meets the high expectations I had of it going in. I think about something like It Follows most weeks and I'm not sure that will be the case with Get Out. Despite that the film deserves a lot of praise for it's perspective on race, and the way it tells that story. I'll be looking forward to more great twists on tired genres by Peele as a result.
So, on that ending... I thought a more pertinent finale would have been if Chris had indeed been shot by a policemen under the assumption he was the villain because of the colour of his skin. I appreciate the reasons for not going down that route, but my jaw dropped when it hinted that was the way it was headed. It would have been an ending that would have added real weight to the themes of the film and lasted longer in the memory. Admittedly it may have clashed with the lighter tones throughout the rest of the film but as soon as Rod stepped out of the car I was oddly disappointed. Peele's said he drawn a lot of inspiration from Night of the Living Dead (1960), and that's no more apparent than in that finale. I wish he had followed through with the idea like the zombie classic did with it's lead character, Ben. Maybe that's just me though.