In the history of the horror genre, very few have dealt with racial tension. Even fewer have explored this as the narrative’s core. This is where Jordan Peele, famous for his show, “Key & Peele,” decided to focus on for his brilliant directorial debut, “Get Out.”
The film opens with an interracial couple, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams), visiting her parents for the weekend. Chris is nervous about meeting them, because he’s black. Upon meeting her parents, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener), Chris is surprised by how over-welcoming they are towards him. He tries to ignore their awkwardness for Rose’s sake. However, from the uncomfortable conversations with Rose’s family and friends to the strange behavior of the two black house workers, Chris feels that something isn’t right.
Genre fans will see “Get Out” as a breath of fresh air, thanks to the unconventional direction of Peele. His direction took obvious inspiration from “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Stepford Wives,” but gave it his own inventive modern take. He manages to take normally tame moments of interactions and sprinkle in just enough tension to put the audience at unease. Peele also gives the film a lot of memorable visuals, especially the extended opening shot of a black male being stalked by a driver in a suburban neighborhood.
For those concerned that Peele’s comedic background somehow prevents him from making something serious will be impressed by his bold and risky creative decisions. The most original aspect of the film is the exploration of liberal racism. In the scene where Chris aimlessly wanders the family gathering feature backhanded generalizations toward him, such as how he “must be really good at sports.”
All of the cast gave stellar performances. Kaluuya has a lot of charisma in his performance and sells his scenes where he feels nervous about his surroundings. He even has great chemistry with Williams. Whitford and Keener are great as always, but the standout performance is Lil Rel Howery as Rod, Chris’s best friend who works as a TSA Officer. Howery gives a refreshing performance to the horror genre as he’s the comedic relief that never gets annoying and has a scene that will get a great reaction from a packed screening.
“Get Out” is a wonderful suprise that will undoubtedly find its audience, given the current state in politics and social tension around race. It’s nice to see a film in the horror genre attempt at giving social commentary and, more importantly, succeed. Especially given that this is Peele’s first film. He says that he has more ideas for future horror films that he wants to make. The only problem that audiences will have with this is the wait to see whatever he comes up with next.