Like It Follows and The Witch, Get Out (103 minutes) is a thinking person’s horror film. More a psychological thriller than a straight up scarefest, it represents a welcome new peak in a genre characterized by some pretty trashy lows. It might seem odd for me, proud of the fact that I’ve been fed on a steady diet of sleaze, exploitation and video nasties since an early age, to notice that there have been some outstanding horror films released in the past year or two. But I didn’t just watch the trashy stuff, and, by the way, the best trashy stuff will have moments of brilliance. Go check out Turkey Shoot aka Escape 2000 if you don’t believe me. Heck, go check out a couple of Roger Corman films.
But I digress. Get Out is about more than just how scary rich, white people are. It is about identifying with an ordinary guy trapped into an uncomfortable weekend meeting his girlfriend’s parents. Of course the atmosphere is weird — it is always weird to meet the partner’s parents. The question is, how much weird behavior justifies calling it quits, when your special new girlfriend is in your corner, suffering with you? And at what point does weird become a red flag for the Texas Chain Saw family reunion?
The movie is hard to sum up without giving away crucial plot points. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) leaves the city with his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams) to visit her parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) on Wealthy Street in Superrich Town, USA. They don’t know he is black, but Rose assures him that her dad voted for Obama, so it’s all good. Chris has his doubts, and I wonder why Rose’s parents aren’t cyberstalking her social media enough to know who she was dating, as any reasonable parent would the minute their child leaves the house. Shoot, I had mine implanted with a miniature tracking device and small camera before we even left the hospital.
The first meeting is every bit as awkward as expected. The perfect suburban house is maintained by two live-in black servants, Walter (Marcus Henderson) and Georgina (Betty Gabriel), who have smiles like the family in that classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life.” Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is borderline ridiculous, and I wish he had been written with a little more subtlety. Over time, it becomes clear that, however the Armitage’s feel about Chris, they are friends with a bunch of racists who were raised in a barn. Remembering that Jordan Peele wrote this script, and probably drew on encounters he had in real life while dating and then marrying Chelsea Peretti, I wonder how much of the party scene was a word-for-word account of questions he had been asked at one time or another.
By the halfway point, it is clear that Chris is ready to cut the weekend short and head for the hills, which is when events go from bad to worse. You see, the entire time (spoiler) was (spoiler) and (spoiler)! The characters keep the audience guessing right up until the final denouement, and if the big reveal wasn’t a surprise by then, at least it was satisfying.
Overall, after I suffered through Keanu, the Key and Peele film I really, truly wanted to like, I wasn’t looking forward to Get Out. Keanu was about a kitty and drug dealers and wacky misunderstandings and was horrifyingly bad; Get Out seemed poised for an equally catastrophic misfire. Then somebody in the PR department got their head on straight and delivered a second set of trailers that made me salivate with anticipation. For once, my high expectations were not disappointed. As I went into the theater, someone said, “Tell me how it is after you see it. I’ve heard it’s pretty good.” I replied, “I don’t need to see it. I already know it’s going to be awesome.” And I was right.
Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.