Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) are an interracial couple. He is uncomfortable when he discovers that Rose’s parents are unaware that he is black. Chris and Rose are planning to take a trip and stay at the parents’ place over the weekend. The Armitages are somewhat daunting. The father Dean (Bradley Whitford) is a neurosurgeon and mother Missy (Catherine Keener) is a psychiatrist. When Chris and Rose arrive at the house–an estate with extensive grounds–everyone seems very welcoming, but there is something unusual about the groundskeeper Walter and the housekeeper Georgina (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel). They are the only employees and they are black. Both react strangely when Chris attempts to engage them in conversation.
As the weekend unfolds, Chris meets Rose’s brother (Caleb Landry Jones) and has to deal with his low-level hostility. The parents seems friendlier but perhaps a little too intrusive. He is forced to meet the Armitages’ social circle en masse because the weekend visit has coincided with an annual family and friends’ gathering. Despite the Armitage’s claims to be politically liberal (and therefore supposedly allies with Chris’s politics) their friends are exclusively upscale, older white-folk. Chris wonders if his feelings of unease might simply be his being in unfamiliar surroundings. He is constantly analysing the social situation. Do these people know what they’re saying? Are they slighting him or are they clueless? He is usually adept at getting along, but the social pressure here is constant, so he keeps in telephone contact with his best friend Rodney (Lil Rel Howery), a TSA Officer. He is a sounding board for Chris’s fears.
Eventually the unease Chris feels, escalates into something more alarming. He has one too many disturbing encounters and makes plans to leave. That’s when the weekend becomes very weird indeed.
GET OUT is a very specific kind of horror film. It is written and directed by Jordan Peele, one half of the TV sketch comedy duo Key and Peele. His movie has a darkly comedic strand running through it, but that contributes to the feeling of unease and dread rather than undercutting the atmosphere. Horror-comedy is a tricky tightrope to walk and first-timer Peele has executed this feat brilliantly.
GET OUT has THE STEPFORD WIVES and GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER among its pop cultural references. The horror isn’t composed of jump-shocks or gore, but uses satire to take the movie’s themes to their logical conclusion. The satire feels especially relevant in the era of President Trump and Black Lives Matter.
Peele has created a nightmare where the nation’s turbulent race history is still pumping through its bloodstream–it is unfinished business. However, if you are not the kind of person who sees the world this way, there is a skilfully constructed story here that will keep you hooked right up until the end. Peele gets great performances from his talented cast (good to see Daniel Kaluuya from TV’s The Fades again) and his script beautifully raises the tension for the film’s 104 minute duration.
GET OUT is an excellent debut that delivers laughs, suspense and horror in a satisfying package. (9/10)