Across five seasons Comedy Central’s Key & Peele delivered some of the most biting and clever satire on television, always tapping into the thorny issue of the moment, whether it be race, religion, politics…or the awesomeness of Liam Neeson. As brilliant as he is at comedy, though, Jordan Peele has always harbored a deep love of horror movies, so it’s no wonder that his directorial debut is a hybrid comedy/horror flick that’s just as sharp as anything he’s done before.
Tackling the issue of race in a wholly original way, Get Out is a spot-on social skewering with enough bona-fide belly laughs and genuine thrills to emerge as the best film so far in 2017. Peele, who also wrote the script, mixes elements of standard horror fare (jump scares and the like) with a subtle yet scathing commentary on race in America to give us both a deftly crafted masterwork and a pulpy matinee thriller in one.
Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams star as Chris Washington and Rose Armitage, an interracial couple dating for five months and gearing up for the big meet-her-parents weekend upstate. Rose’s dad Dean (Bradley Whitford) is a neurosurgeon, and her mom Missy (Catherine Keener) is a psychiatrist, and neither of them have been told that Chris is black. Rose is quick to allay Chris fears though, professing that neither of her parents is racist, and, in fact, that her dad would have voted for a third Obama term if he could have.
Once they arrive, Chris (and the audience) immediately senses that something is just a little bit off. Little throwaway comments sneak into the conversation (Dean tries to drop urban bon mots like “thang” and “know what i’m sayin’?”), and the zombie-eyed black gardener and maid seem to have just returned from having their bodies snatched. The next day, a lawn party brings a bevy of nice white folk who greet Chris with their admirations of Tiger Woods and strong black genes.
At the same time, Missy is offering hypnotize Chris to cure him of his nasty smoking habit and, in one of the film’s more terrifying scenes, seems to succeed…or was it just a bad dream?
To say more would risk giving away any of the handful of twists and turns that are thrown at us in the second half of the film; suffice to say there’s no shortage of stuff that you’ll never see coming. And Get Out is so tightly written that every single beat in the script will cause a “holy crap!” moment once you think back and begin putting it all together.
From the prologue scene, deliciously set to Flanagan and Allen’s 1940’s ditty “Run Rabbit Run”, straight through to the predictable but wholly satisfying ending, the film hits one home run after another. The cast gives stellar performances across the board, including Lil Rel Howery as Chris’s TSA-agent buddy, and the whole shebang is just flat-out entertaining. The bonus comes when you realize that Peele has subtly (and not-so-subtly) been giving us a fairly profound study in race relations at the same time.