By Dorany Pineda
There is nothing standard about Jordan Peele’s brutally smart feature film debut “Get Out,” a comedy horror satire about the African American experience within a white suburban neighborhood.
“Get Out” is a social commentary about white racism and the real-life anxieties of the black experience in this country, which, as the film reveals, can sometimes descend into nightmare. The film opens with a scene of a young black man walking down an empty suburban sidewalk at night trying to figure out the directions to his destination.
A white car suddenly appears and begins to creep up next to him. As fear and tension wash over him, he turns and starts walking the other way, only to be attacked by a masked figure and dragged into the car.
It’s a terrifying scene and one that recalls the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.
This event casts the tone of the movie, which only gets more menacing as the story unfolds. Echoing the likes of classics like “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?,” “Stepford Wives” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” Peele masterfully weaves the genre fluctuations of horror, drama, humor, action and thriller elements in an incredibly fluid way.
He gashes the familiar racial stereotypes so pervasive in Hollywood and zooms in on them, forcing viewers to think about race and social privilege.
The film follows the story of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African-American photographer, and Rose (Allison Williams), his white, adoring girlfriend who take a weekend trip to her parent’s country house to meet them for the first time.
Upon meeting Chris, the family is friendly and seem to be focused on making sure he feels comfortable, but it only does the contrary. Missy Armitage, played by Catherine Keener, and Dean Armitage, played by Bradley Whitford, play Rose’s charismatic yet eerie parents.
Their performances are fantastic and deeply unsettling, though not in an overt way (at least initially). Freakier than Rose’s parents are their zombie-like maid and groundskeeper, Walter and Georgina (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel), the only other black people around. During a family party later on, Chris notices another black man.
At first relieved by the presence of another black person among a sea of white affluent elders, Chris soon discovers there is something freakishly off about him too.
During a weird exchange between the two, something triggers the black guest and he charges at Chris yelling, “Get out!”
As Chris navigates the party and meets more of the white guests, the casually racist microaggressions directed at him pile up. From an older lady without invitation touches Chris’ muscles and asks, “Is it true? Is it…better?” as she looks down at his crotch to a white man’s proud remark of his love for Tiger Woods, the bizarre encounters and events leaves Chris wondering if a serious threat looms near or if he’s just being paranoid.
The jump-scares and ominous score keep the audience in suspense from the start, but the story eventually takes a truly bloodcurdling turn.
“Get Out” is truly a one-of-akind, meaningful horror film that had the audience cheering and clapping during some of the film’s key moments.
It’s a movie that many people, including Peele himself, were shocked to see made and will inevitably find its place in the list of the best American horror films ever made. The film is rated R for violence, bloody images and language including sexual references