Use any of the common platitudes that signal a wholesale change in this medium: changing of the guard, a star is born, “spiritual successor” or (gulp) a new sheriff in town. All are true by their nature but let’s use the phrase uttered by everyone who has seen Get Out:
Jordan Peele tho…
Any person with a pulse knows the writer/director is talented. That was never in dispute. As much a fan this critic is of Peele, it’s a complete surprise to see a horror film with such shock, awe and menace.
Making an unholy union of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Stepford Wives, new couple Chris and his Caucasian girlfriend, Rose, prepare for a weekend road trip to meet Rose’s parents. Any concern about awkward social racism is allayed when fear becomes reality. Despite the insistence of myriad clichés at play from his friend, Lil Rel Howery, Chris will need all the help to survive the long weekend.
Peele’s prowess as a director is technical and artistic. First, and thank god, he doesn’t rely on jumpscare or overblown ADR. In the most horrific moments, the idea of just letting the camera zero in on the horror is somehow revolutionary. Get Out is one part dilution of quality modern horror films with a throwback quality of ‘80s golden era horror—most notably 1978’s Halloween. A fresh cut of Keanu with Peele’s eyes should be petitioned.
Combining trope characters with new perspective gives audiences and film a fresh take. There hasn’t been a character like Chris Washington. Smart, resilient and, most importantly, aware of surroundings. Daniel Kaluuya is nothing short of spectacular. Take aside the racial elements of this film (which is a lot to ask for), you root for Chris as human being. The last act isn’t horror as much as a tragedy. Instead of creating a character that needs to top viewers’ imagination of what scary is, casting character actors to play grounded (to some degree), actual characters, is a stroke of genius. Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener and, most notably, Allison Williams set up more game on film than half the point guards in the NBA. And let’s be honest, Rod Williams as Lil Rel Howery steals every scene he’s in.
Artistically, Get Out is an evolution of the writer’s greatest moment, Key & Peele’s, “Negrotown.” Rather than spiking a punchline, Peele double downs on tension. The worst moments in both are the horror and reality of the situation. The fact that we recognize that, as human beings, we can relate to it is terrifying. I think this film has the most visceral social impact for white and minority viewers in recent memory. Maybe ever. It’s able to reach to the core of the institutional racism without being either condemning or pandering.
In the finale of “Key and Peele,” he insisted that he’d be a visionary. Get Out is a step in the right direction.