Blumhouse Productions have been behind some of the best genre efforts of recent years; Insidious, The Conjuring, this year’s sleeper success, Split. Not only do they have a knack of turning minimal budget pictures into huge financial multipliers, but such rewards gives them the freedom to create the type of films that an audience fatigued by repetitive horror offerings are looking for. This brings us to Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele, one half of the comedic duo who bought us the underrated Keanu, who’s now turning his lens towards a never-more-relevant social commentary, by way of this Stepford Wives with a racial twist horror-comedy.
It’s fair to say that knowing as little as possible about what’s going to greet Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Alison Williams) as they drive through the creepily affluent estate on which her family live, will benefit the bat-shit craziness of it all ten-fold. You see, they don’t know that Chris is black, and whilst Rose reassures him that her father (Bradley Whitford) would have voted Obama in for a third term, he’s a bit more wary about rich provincial America. They’re reservations that at first seem satirically trivial, fast evolving from nervousness into moments of uncomfortable casual racism, before it all unspools into a deliciously terrifying survival horror.
All of the best horror films have a clear subtext that permeates the narrative; The Mist was a 9/11 allegory, George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was a commentary on consumerist culture, whilst The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a critique of Vietnam slaughter. Get Out’s couldn’t be timelier, with racial tensions dominating rolling news channels on a daily basis. It’s a zeitgeist that Peele taps into wonderfully, asking questions of the viewer’s preconceptions and either sending them up, or exacerbating them to uncomfortable effect. It scathing to both racists and white liberalists, poking fun at the fear and pretentiousness associated with the simple premise of spending time in the company of a black man.
Once the satire takes a back seat, Peele revels in the job of first time directing, constructing some genuinely creepy set-pieces. Initially it’s all so subtly done too, adding to the sense of dread that the slow-burn approach generates; shiver at the stirring of a cup, the sudden appearance of the constantly smiling groundskeeper, and the strange interactions with Rose’s creepy mixed martial arts obsessed brother (Caleb Landry Jones). The final twenty minutes then descend into a nerve-shredding game of cat-and–mouse that’ll have you cheering and wincing at a series of increasingly crazy twists.
As your guide through this warped realm which depicts a former fringe society, Daniel Kaluuya is terrific. He gives Chris a knowing intelligence, with his exasperated expressions at least fifty percent of why the comedic elements work. For so many reasons, he’s worth rooting for. However, the real voice of the picture is LilRel Howery as his best friend Rod. He dips in and out of the film with a series of phone calls, and wonderfully, he has no filter, often saying either what the audience wants to hear, or doesn’t, all of it though is utterly hilarious.
Image: Universal Pictures