Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is about to visit his in-laws for the first time, but he is feeling apprehensive about the looming encounter. However, these are not your average jitters associated with meeting the parents of your significant other; Chris is anxious about meeting his in-laws because they are white and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), has yet to tell them that Chris is black. Upon arrival, his sense of unease only increases, not only because Rose’s parents are inadvertently alienating him as they awkwardly keep telling him how much they like black people, but also because something seems to be terribly wrong with the black groundskeeper and maid employed by the white family. After an intense impromptu therapy session conducted by Rose’s psychiatrist mother under the guise of wanting to help Chris quit smoking, things keep getting weirder and weirder, and Chris begins to wonder if he should just get the hell out of there.
Opening with an eerie scenario that draws obvious parallels to the tragic murder of African American teen Trayvon Martin, it instantly becomes clear that writer/director Jordan Peele – who is one half of comedy duo Key and Peele – is not afraid to address the nature of contemporary racism in his directorial debut. As the plot begins to unfold, the unease the main protagonist feels is rooted in his discomfort of being a black person surrounded exclusively by white people. Drawing on his own awkward experiences in such scenarios, Peele satirizes the ignorance of well-meaning white people by showcasing how their overcompensation in terms of reassuring Chris of their acceptance of him only proves that they see him as a skin color first and a human being second. What makes this approach particularly impactful is that these white people are not your average racist caricatures; they are the overbearing liberal elite who are unaware of their own hypocrisy. By avoiding the usual Hollywood tropes of portraying racism exclusively as either being a trademark of rabid sociopaths or as something that only happened in the past, Get Out’s portrayal of everyday racism is as fresh as it is relevant.
On top of the brilliantly satirical social commentary, Peele also manages to expertly increase the more conventional type of unease associated with the horror genre. As the film progresses, the ugly face of racism is not the only element that gets increasingly unpleasant, as the nature of the plot at the core of the film is also sinister to say the least. Without ever losing track of the overarching social themes, this plot is slowly unwrapped, tipping the film further and further from thriller territory into a more conventional type of horror. This is done by slowly increasing the sense of danger and the frequency of the scares that come along with the genre. While the scares are generally rather conventional, they are largely effective and never veer into ridiculousness, resulting in a very well-balanced end product. The genre, storytelling and pacing are not alone in being well-balanced either, as the actors showcase their skills with solid acting performances all around. LilRel Howery in particular steals every scene he is in as the best friend that an anxious Chris repeatedly calls, only to receive hilarious advice that lightens the mood for both Chris and the audience at welcome intervals. All in all, nothing about the production value of Get Out ever gives away that the film was made with a modest budget of $4.5 million.
What sets Get Out apart from most modern horror is not only how it seamlessly blends satire and horror together in a way that makes the two elements elevate each other, it is also the fact that the story is told from the perspective of people of color, an underrepresented demographic in terms of mainstream horror. As a result, Get Out is an original, tense and sharply satirical horror film that not only is noteworthy contribution to the horror genre, but also bodes well for Peele’s future efforts as a film maker.
Verdict: 9 out of 10.