★★★★☆ – Whilst the trailer reveals too much, Get Out is hilarious and terrifying as much as it is unique, a pulse-racing satire of liberalist racism in America.
When I first saw the trailer for Get Out in a viral Facebook video last year, I genuinely thought it was a well-made parody, a role-reversal satire of a conventional blockbuster horror movie. Would a huge company such as Universal really make this? Turns out they did, and audiences are thanking them for it in droves. Quickly becoming the No.1 movie in America following its mid-February release, Get Out officially hit UK screens on Friday, and is proving to be just as much of a box-office draw this side of the Atlantic. And no wonder; directed by Jordan Peele, (who just became the first black writer-director to earn a $100million movie debut) Get Out is a steady-building thriller that leads to a highly satisfying conclusion.
It’s needless to say that the film explores themes of racism, but the extent of which it does is shocking and, at first, seemingly far-reaching. And yet the viewer is still left with the quiet sense of dread that actually, maybe it’s not such a huge stretch, history considered. The performances are excellent all round, with an unexpectedly layered turn by Girls alumni Allison Williams as Rose, the central character’s girlfriend. Playing her mother is Catherine Keener, whose poise and icy coolness is off-putting almost as soon as she appears on screen – playing her marital counterpart, Bradley Whitford is far better at keeping us guessing. But it is Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris that steals every scene he enters, his unease and slow penny-dropping evident in every subtle twitch of his eyebrows, and the nervous laugh that permeates awkward conversation.
The horror element is perfectly counterbalanced by the riotous one-liners delivered by Lil Rel Howery as Rod, Chris’s best friend. Mostly over the phone, his character manages to lighten the mood several times throughout the film, even when the plot is getting darker and more twisted. It’s this careful scattering of humour that gives light to the darkness of what is essentially a charged story of hidden racism embedded in a community, a not-so-subtle analogy of the casual racism of today’s liberal America. It’s this same anti-racist ignorance that prompts Whitford, as Rose’s father, to say unsolicited to Chris, “I would have voted for Obama a third time if I could” as justification for keeping only black house staff.
My only gripe with the film is less so the movie itself, than its promotion. The trailer gives away so much that going in, there are few major surprises. But even so, despite some predictable moments, it maintains its undercurrent of suspenseful unease, and is still vastly unique in both its plot and its message to viewers.
– Thomas Marrington
See Get Out in cinemas across the UK now.