I’m just going to get right down to it: Get Out is incredible. It isn’t just a good horror film. It isn’t just a good film regardless of genre.
It’s the first great film of 2017.
Get Out‘s opening is familiar enough to anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie. A lost person, in this case a young black man struggling to navigate a suburban neighborhood, gets uneasy when a car slows next to him. A car that happens to have the always creepy “Run Rabbit Run” playing. He tries to escape his pursuer, but things decidedly do not go his way as he’s choked out and dragged into the back of the car. But you weren’t expecting anything else, were you?
Get Out is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, who also wrote the film. Peele is, of course, best known as half of the hilarious sketch comedy duo Key & Peele (with Keegan Michael Key), but Get Out is proof that he can easily switch genres. Get Out has plenty of laughs mixed in with its tension and scares, but it’s a horror film through and through.
Photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya; Skins, Sicario) is going to meet his girlfriend Rose’s (Alison Williams, Girls) parents for the first time. He’s concerned that she hasn’t told them that he’s black—a concern that’s both understandable and warranted considering they live in a relatively secluded mansion with wares from around the world.
Her parents, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener), are a little too obvious in their attempts to let Chris know they’re totally cool with his race. Everything settles at an acceptable level of awkwardness after their initial interactions, though. Sure, Missy wants to hypnotize Chris to help him quit smoking, but that’s normal. And Dean just wants Chris to know they’re not racist—even though he knows how it looks that they’re a white family with two black employees. They’re two black employees who seem off from the get go, of course.
Premise aside, it’s best to go into Get Out knowing as little as possible. Peele expertly disperses information throughout the film’s second act, giving audiences just enough to wonder what’s coming next. Chris knows something’s off from his arrival, but each reveal and reversal makes it all the more obvious. The final reveal of exactly what’s going on is incredibly satisfying. Even better, everything comes back to pay off by the end.
Get Out simply works. Its scares are frequent and earned, with most deriving from the tension that starts building before Chris and Rose even arrive at the house. There are jump scares, but they never feel cheap. Peele’s pacing is tremendous: dread builds until it can’t build any more, leading to an incredibly satisfying third act. It’s not all scares, though, with just the right amount of comedy mixed in.
Chris’s friend, TSA Agent Rod (Lil Rel Howery) has an absolutely delightful subplot, and he’s responsible for several of the film’s laugh out loud, wear a stupid grin on your face moments. That’s not to say he’s the only comedy in the film, but he brings a lot to the table. Howery would have stolen the show in a lesser film. In Get Out, though, he’s one of the countless pieces that works to perfection. Well, close to perfection. A few logic gaps create bumps along the way, but none egregious enough to detract much from the experience.
Get Out has all the makings of a good horror film. In execution, it’s so much more than that. It’s a satirical look at modern America, and a painfully relevant one. A razor sharp and unforgiving dissection of low key racism, of being so not racist that you become racist. A terrifying, often hilarious exploration of race relations. Most importantly, it’s not satisfied to dwell on the surface of its premise; Get Out knows that real terror isn’t just skin-deep.
GO SEE THIS RIGHT NOW.