Film Review: "Get Out"

 Press Release: Universal Pictures

Press Release: Universal Pictures

Jordan Peele's horror-satire has long legs at the box office

Almost 90-years ago, "Frankenstein" scared the heck out of movie audiences and helped make Universal Pictures Horror a brand name. Now, Universal's reputation for freaking people out has been further enhanced with “Get Out,” a terrifying, fascinating and hilarious film that's the latest in a long line of horror genre box-office winners from the studio. Comedy Central’s Jordan Peele wrote and directed the film which made more than $100 million dollars during its first three weeks of release, making Peele the first black writer-director to achieve that cinematic feat.

Unlike iconic films from Universal's past like "The Mummy," "Dracula," or "Jurassic Park," audiences won't recognize the monsters in "Get Out" by their quilted skin, stilted gaits or razor-sharp talons. In this film, the boogeymen have sophisticated appearances, suburban estates and sinister plans.

"Get Out" explores issues of: racial bias, class exclusion, police profiling, interracial and cross-generational dating, abandonment, paranoia and, of course, fear.

In the film's opening scene, a neatly but casually dressed young black man, walks quickly along a deserted residential street at night. With its lush, green lawns, upscale homes, and deep shadows, the street could have fit nicely into the set for the horror-movie classic "Halloween." The man is alone and clearly nervous as he talks to someone on his mobile phone and learns the address he's searching for is just one street away. When he nervously tells the other person on the line, “I’m like a sore thumb out here,” many people of color will feel a sense of deja-vu.

At parties, in restaurants, on vacation and in countless other locations the sudden self-awareness that you are “the only one,” the only person of color, can be a fleeting and unwelcome intrusion of thought.

In “Get Out,” Peele, a black American of mixed-race, has drawn from those brief moments of unease at being “different from the others,” and spun them into a ridiculously entertaining and shocking cinematic nightmare.

The film's protagonist, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), is an easy-going, black, fine-art photographer who, against the advice of his amiable friend Rod (LilRel Howery), reluctantly agrees to go away for the weekend, to meet the parents of his loving white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams).

“Do they know I’m black?” Chris asks just before the couple leaves his stylish loft apartment in the city. They don't, but Rose reassuringly responds, “They’re not racist. I wouldn’t be bringing you home.”

This is not the answer that Chris, or for that matter anyone with a diverse group of friends in the real world, wants to hear, whether it’s going home to meet the parents or joining a group trip to Vegas. “Yeah, it’s cool,” is always the preferable response.

After a long and eventful drive, the couple finally arrives at the idyllic country estate of Missy and Dean Armitage (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford). The couple warmly greets them and ushers them into the house. Almost immediately things begin to go wrong. When during a cozy, fireside conversation, one of the parents characterizes the young couple’s relationship as a “thang,” viewers can sense the first red flag go up in Chris's brain. However, he does the one thing security experts say you should never do when another person's actions make you very uncomfortable - he tries to ignore it.

As the weekend progresses, offensive comments and innuendo directed at Chris by the Armitage's friends grow dreadfully more outrageous. His confidence is eventually destroyed. After a bizarre and unexpected experience with the only other black party guest during an annual event at the estate, Chris, shaken to the core, realizes he has to get back to the city immediately. But is it too late?

With nuanced performances, saturated colors, gorgeous shadows, exquisite sound design and gauzy flashback scenes, "Get Out" beautifully expresses the emotional complexity of Chris' weekend from hell.

Following its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, "Get Out" reached No.1 the first weekend of theatrical release. It is still ranked among the top five films at the box office in its fourth week, holding its own against the blockbusters, "Beauty and the Beast,""Kong: Skull Island," and "Logan."

"Get Out" is a bona-fide hit. Get yourself out to see it, and enjoy the ride!

“Get Out,” Directed and written by Jordan Peele. Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener. Horror-Satire, Rated R, Running-time: 1 hour 44 minutes, Universal Pictures, Now playing.