GET OUT **** U.S.A. 2017 Dir: Jordan Peele. 104 mins
Writer / director Jordan Peele’s feature debut has an arresting opening sequence: a young black guy is attacked and bundled into a car in some “creepy ass suburb” before the provocative title appears on-screen. Subsequently, budding photographer Daniel Kaluuya prepares to meet his white girlfriend’s (Alison Williams) parents for the first time: although assured there will be no racial awkwardness, he still harbours understandable, age-old fears : “I don’t wanna be chased off the lawn with a shotgun”.
What he finds is a warmly inviting, liberal middle-class couple, but what’s with the peculiar behaviour of the black people in their household reduced to clichéd service roles? With its witty portrayal of well-to-do white people indulging in banal pleasures (Bingo, sparklers, wine) while barely repressing their own envy of their black counterparts (for being “stronger, faster…cooler…”), GET OUT operates as a bold satire with an underlying creepy STEPFORD WIVES-inspired ambience. Peele cannily employs and subverts horror archetypes and clichés (starting with the portentous early scene of our protagonists hitting a deer en-route to a remote country mansion) and pulls off an intense final act bloodbath involving at least one surprising character twist. The core themes are, of course, depressingly timely – it has been referred to as the first Trumpian horror film – and if the script inevitably relies on certain contrivances and coincidences, it’s so refreshing and well-acted it seems churlish to gripe. Kaluuya is an all too rare underplayed, non-stereotypical black hero in modern horror – and the fact that we have to use the phrase “all too rare” is perhaps the most depressing thing about the movie.
Review by Steven West