In an attempt to not spoil this movie I have my review in two sections. The top section is more of a general response to the film and below that is a section where I dig into more specifics about the film that I want to unwind. So do not read the whole thing if you want to avoid spoilers.
Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a psychological thriller that keeps you on your toes and unsure of where the characters stand the whole way through. The story follows Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, and his girlfriend Rose, played by Allison Williams, as they visit her family in upstate New York. No more information is needed. Peele succeeds in taking the viewer on a comedic, thrilling, and satisfying ride.
Get Out offers a refreshing feel to the mystery thriller genre. I am trying to think of other thrillers that have startling and suspenseful moments coupled with laugh out loud moments. Seamlessly transitioning between this dichotomy, between comedy and thriller, allows the film to reset the audience with comic relief. Since the audience has that comic breather it allows the suspense to have a greater impact.
The story is consistent and witty from start to finish. Every scene is important and helps drive the story line, there is no fat to trim on this film. This offers evidence that the director was successful in executing his vision. Get Out is an outstanding addition to the thriller genre and an excellent debut for Jordan Peele. Peele became the first black writer/director to break the $100 million mark on a debut film.
Something that would have stopped this film and concept in its tracks would have been poor acting. However, each actor and actress conveyed complex, mysterious, and ambiguous characters that stayed consistent throughout the entire film. The cast certainly pulled their weight to help bring Peele’s vision to life, and I am looking forward to more films by him in the future.
Looking back on the film it is clear that it is a tapestry of parallel stories and every scene helped to reinforce that. Each scene has definitive purpose and doesn’t say too much or too little. One major theme that I got out of this film was that every character was trapped. Whether they were trapped in their body, trapped in their mind, trapped in a stereotype, or trapped in their particular circumstances in life. In the end, everyone was trying to get out. Another major theme of the movie was the fear of dying slowly and alone. For most of the characters this is unavoidable, for some it is excruciating and tormenting, and for a few, apparently, it is possible to avoid.
In terms of being trapped, there were those that were trapped in their physical body, which was clearly demonstrated by the elderly and disabled that came to the party. They were desperately seeking to either revitalize their lost vigor or motivated to obtain attributes they were never able to achieve in their lifetime. This was demonstrated by Jim Hudson, played by Stephen Root, with his shattered hopes of being a photographer due to his lack of ability and eyesight. There were also those in the story that were injured to the point of being immobilized before death. This included: Chris’s mother, who plays a large role in the psychology of his character along with tying in a parallel between the deer that is hit early in the movie and lays dying on the side of the road; the scene where Chris hits Georgina with the car and his attempt to redeem himself (which backfires); and his decision to leave Rose dying on the road as a form of punishment.
There were also those that were trapped within their own minds. This was conveyed through the ‘sunken place’: where the true owner of the body was trapped through hypnosis so that another could enter and use their body. Some of the most jarring scenes came when the audience got a glimpse of the prisoners attempts to get out of the depths of their minds.
Certain characters were trying to overcome being stuck in a stereotype. For example, Ron, the sensible friend and TSA agent, is consistently attempting to prove that his profession as a TSA agent is more than just stamping passports at the airport. He goes on to prove his validity as an “investigator/detective” TSA agent by saving the day despite being laughed at throughout the movie for his eccentricities. Chris is also struggling with stereotyping from Rose’s family before he realizes they are overcompensating and deceiving.
One of the best aspects of this movie that makes it so successful is the fact that it is remarkably satisfying. The characters do what you want them to do. The mix of logic and sanity, primarily displayed through Ron, allows the movie to avoid cliches and setups for sequels that have become an unfortunate standard. Additionally, once the story has run its course it doesn’t drag out the finale too long. Get Out gets to the point and ties up all loose ends.
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Cinematography: Toby Oliver
Runtime: 1h 44m
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller