Monday, March 13, 2017

New Release! Get Out (2017) [Spoiler-Free Review]

No Spoilers. Have No Fear.

Director: Jordan Peele

While not the genre-changing, life-altering experience that some might have you expect, this was a very solid suspense/horror movie that offers some thoughtful, rich themes and suggestions about society that go beyond most films in the genre.

As much as any movie in recent history, I wish had not seen any of the previews. I suspect that it might have had far more impact had the trailers, which were being shown at high volume for weeks before the film's release, not given too many hints at the tale. As such, I was able to guess at the general plot fairly well, along with some of the details. To keep this review spoiler-free, I'll stick to a paraphrase of the common preview. Chris Washington is a young, black Brooklyn photographer who is taking a weekend trip to meet his white girlfriend Rose's family for the first time. Shortly after arriving at the impressive New England home of the Armitages, Chris senses something amiss with the environment, especially with the odd behavior of their groundskeeper and maid, both of whom are black. While the Armitages seem pleasant enough, they take odd interests in Chris which give him pause. The sensation becomes more profound when the Armitages host a rather large party, where more of their friends behave towards Chris in similarly strange ways. The details of the unusual behavior become clear, revealing horrors from which Chris must eventually escape. All of this is depicted fairly clearly in the advertisements. Fortunately, there is more to the movie than the plot, which is good since some of of the minor details don't hold up particularly well under close scrutiny. Minor details, though.

While the terrible details in the story make up the horror elements, it is their implications about race and identity that elevate Get Out above nearly all other films of the genre. There are several extremely meaty topics worthy of exploration and discussion, mostly relating to white appropriation of black identity in various forms. There are also themes of psychological bondage and other sophisticated notions that are likely to stay with viewers long after the film ends. They have in my case.

Nothing creepy about these Caucasians. Nothing at all.
In addition to these impressive strengths, the movie is simply a solidly-constructed film. Anyone who has watched much of the Key and Peele comedy sketch show that writer/director Jordan Peele did for five years knows that he is a massive movie buff who knows how to analyze and lampoon nearly every cinematic genre and technique. In Get Out, though, he sets aside the comedy (for the most part) and really shows his film-making chops. Solid scripting and pacing, along with excellent cinematography and editing, enhance the eerie tale considerably. Oh, and the one element of comic relief is consistently hilarious (as expected from a comedy maestro like Peele).

I can't claim to be an expert on horror movies, but I have seen nearly all of the "classics" and I do appreciate a well-done horror flick. Get Out joins the ranks of the great ones, and will likely remain relevant for decades. I highly recommend to those who are not put off by challenging themes and a handful of brutally violent scenes. If you don't mind that, then you're in for one novel film.