I like my horror like I like my science fiction, with ample social
commentary. The best horror focuses on an authentic darkness in our
society and stretches it to fill a much larger canvas. As a result, the
fears and reactions of an individual or group are laid bare for a
greater audience to take in. In my experience, this type of horror
rarely makes it to the silver screen and is normally relegated to the
pages of prose, but Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele, is
exactly this type of story.

African American Chris Washington (played by Daniel Kaluuya) and his
white girlfriend of five months Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) drive
out to the country to meet her parents. Chris expresses concern that he
is her first black boyfriend and she has not yet told her parents what
he looks like. Rose understands, but insists that her parents are not
racist and informs Chris that her dad “would have voted for Obama for a
third term, if he could have,” a line which he later repeats to Chris
verbatim. Rose’s parents are welcoming, though there is the traditional
attempts to welcome a black man when the person has spent little time
with a black man. There are lots of “my man” and “thaaaangs” thrown
around with emphasis. Chris takes it in stride, and portrays the fact
that, quite frankly, he puts up with this all the time. Rose, on the
other hand, is a bit more upset in private, coming to realize that her
parents are in fact a bit racist.

As the story develops, the interactions with white family friends
becomes even more cluelessly racist; a former professional golfer
pointing out that he loves “Tiger,” another man saying that being black
“is very popular right now,” another asking Chris if he thinks the black
American has “more advantage or disadvantage these days.” The
interactions with the small number of other black people are even more
disturbing as they simply don’t act normal, but in the creepiest
possible way. Chris summarizes it best when trying to explain his
discomfort to Rose, “It’s not what he says but how he says it.”

The terror builds gradually but at a satisfying pace. This is a film of
psychological horror that does not resort to startling for fear, though
occasionally does startle for comedy to great success. Coming from the
mind of Jordan Peele there are some excellent comedy moments, but I
don’t consider this a member of the horror/comedy genre because a film
of that type simply can’t haunt the back of your mind like Get Out
does. The comedy is less to defuse tension and more to portray how real
people would act in this situation. A suitably placed “what the fuck…?”
makes the character feel much more real as it mimics our own response
when watching the film.

The character arcs and cinematography perfectly grab and hold you in
this terrifying world of racial tension, which is just an amplified and
distorted version of our own reality. I expected no less from Jordan
Peele, and I look forward to future releases from the writer/director.
If you are looking for an outstanding suspense horror rife with social
commentary then get out to see this film.

 4*

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