Thursday, 8 February 2018
Review: Get Out (UK Cert 15)
Meeting your girlfriend's family for the first time is nerve-wracking enough, but for Chris Washington, it literally becomes a matter of life and death. Welcomed warmly (maybe a bit too warmly) by Rose's liberal parents, the truth behind Chris' visit soon becomes apparent- and he's forced into a desperate battle for survival...
Released in 2017, I missed Get Out during its cinema release, but it's now available on DVD/BluRay, so I've been able to catch up with it, and I'm glad that I have. I'm not a massive horror fan, as I've said before, but I thoroughly enjoyed the film (as did Matt, who spoke highly of it in our Review Of The Year). It's not a horror in the traditional sense; it's much more of a thriller in the style of something like Rosemary's Baby or the 1970s version of The Stepford Wives. There's the occasional jump-scare but they're few and far between. The final 20 minutes or so do descend into typical 'horror movie' final act tropes (with Chris as the Final Girl) but, such is the skill that's gone before in making Chris a sympathetic character, you're really behind him and you want him to escape.
Londoner Daniel Kaluuya absolutely nails the American accent and plays Chris with a wonderful balance of nervousness and steel. Becoming slowly exasperated by everyone's niceness (which he attributes to political correctness), he soon finds out there's a much more sinister plot brewing beneath the bonhomie. You could write a whole thesis on the racial politics and representations in the film; Chris is asked several times to comment on 'the Black Experience' (as if he's some kind of spokesman) and there's a sly reference to the fetishisation of black men as sexual objects which comes out of left-field. It's an impressive central performance which has been rightly lauded throughout this awards season.
This is the first thing I've seen Allison Williams in (I haven't ever seen Girls), but she is superb as Rose. Even after the twist is revealed, there's still a magnetism to her performance which is utterly beguiling- you can understand why Chris has fallen in love with her. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener play Rose's parents Dean and Missy as almost caricaturistally liberal (a common refrain is they would have voted for Obama for a third term if they could) but there's a definite hint of menace beneath both performances- Keener's in particular- which makes for a nicely ambiguous set-up at the beginning. Caleb Landry Jones is good as Rose's unpredictable brother Jeremy, a more ostensible threat than anything else going on at the house.
Betty Gabriel deserves a mention for her role as housekeeper Georgina- in a pivotal scene which suggests all may not be as it seems in the Armitage household, Georgina becomes confused, starts to cry and then laugh uncontrollably all in the space of a few seconds- it's one of the most uncomfortable but powerful moments in the film. You can literally see every emotion play across Gabriel's face. It's astounding. Finally, Lil Rel Howery provides the majority of the laughs as Chris' fast-talking TSA friend Rod, providing welcome moments of levity amidst the encroaching tension.
There's some interesting visual quirks to the film- the sequences in The Sunken Place are really trippy but nicely realised- as well as a good use of sound design; the sound of a silver spoon stirring a cup of tea might well take on a different meaning after seeing Get Out. Jordan Peele's direction is slick and his screenplay a nice balance of funny and scary.
Get Out is a real hybrid- a blend of social commentary, family drama, comedy, horror, and even some high-concept sci-fi all mixed together to create something that starts out as Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and ends up as more of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Even if horror isn't really your thing, give Get Out a go. It's a fine piece of film-making.
Rating: 5 out of 5