Certificate 15, 104 minutes
Director: Jordan Peele
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
Get Out opens with a man walking through some suburbs at night whilst speaking on his mobile phone. He appears to be lost when a white car passes him going in one direction. The car turns around in the street and pulls up next to him, although the driver cannot be seen. Rather creepily, the song “Run Rabbit Run” can be heard coming from the car. As the walker continues, the car crawls slowly after him. The man then doubles back on himself and starts to cross the road. When he looks back at the white car, its driver’s door is open. Then a mostly unseen figure, who appears to be wearing a mask, grabs him around the throat from behind. The attacker, after his victim goes limp – it’s unclear as to whether he’s dead or simply unconscious – stuffs him in the boot of his car.
Next we see an apartment decorated with black and white photographs and a young man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a photographer it seems, getting ready. Elsewhere, a woman, Rose (Allison Williams), is picking out doughnuts at a shop. She arrives at Chris’s apartment, for she’s his girlfriend, and the two of them are going to go and see her parents. Chris is a bit worried about this, and asks Rose if she’s told her parents about him. The reason for this concern is that he’s African-American and she’s white, so he’s concerned that there will be some tension when they show up, but Rose tells him not to worry.
Her parents live some distance out in the country, in a fairly large house with no neighbours for some distance. Her father, Dean (Bradley Whitford), is a neurosurgeon and her mother, Missy (Catherine Keener), is a psychiatrist. Neither seems that concerned over the colour of Chris’s skin, so his fears seem to perhaps be groundless. They do have two African-American servants working for them, both black, something Dean admits looks bad, but that they were hired to take care of his parents and, after they died, they couldn’t bear to let them go. Dean offers to show Chris around the house – except the basement, which is glossed over as being sealed due to black mould in what seems like a case of foreshadowing.
Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) also arrives although he seems to be a bit of a creep, and perhaps may have an issue with Chris. The two servants, the groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) and the house maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel) do seem a little odd – they don’t seem to be reacting quite right to Chris, or anything for that matter. It also turns out that Missy uses hypnosis in her treatments, and offers to help Chris stop smoking. More foreshadowing perhaps.
It also turns out that, this weekend, the Armitages are having a regular annual gathering, something that was started by Dean’s father and a tradition that he has continued. So a lot of people turn up in black limousines. The new arrivals are both white and around the age of Rose’s parents or perhaps older. Apart from some cringingly bad “I’m okay with black people, really” moments (bad because they are all to realistic) – name dropping Tiger Woods by a former professional golfer, Dean saying his father was beaten by Jesse Owens and how Barrack Obama should have served a third term, others commenting on Chris’s physique and how black has become popular again – this seems to go reasonably okay. The comments are bad enough that Chris is relieved to see another African-American there; the only person other than the servants. When Chris greets the man, Logan (Lakeith Stanfield), it turns out to be the man from the very beginning of the film. Only his posture, clothing, appearance and manner of speaking have all changed. Which is a little creepy for the audience – especially when Logan freaks out and attacks Chris for no apparent reason.
Clearly there is something going on here, but what? Chris’s phone keeps being unplugged and losing its charge as a consequence, but he still manages to occasionally speak to his friend Rod (LilRel Howery) – usually just after he’s plugged his phone in again. There are other bizarre goings on, such as how everyone stops talking when Chris leaves the room, or the weird bingo game with a photograph of Chris in which it looks like no balls are being drawn and everyone is a winner. Hint – it’s not actually bingo. Chris finally decides he’s had enough and tries to leave, but it’s not going to be that simple.
This is not a fast-paced film nor, despite its rating, is it a particularly bloody one. Instead it gradually builds up as the audience is kept guessing as to what is actually going on. Are the Armitages and their friends secretly racists? Or are the various people simply guilt-ridden white people trying to bend over backwards to show how cosmopolitan they are? Why is Logan there and why is he so different from how he behaved earlier? The basement and the hypnosis do, as guessed, come into play, but what they are actually doing is more of a surprise. Get Out also isn’t as grim as it could be, due to various comedic moments – mostly coming from Chris’s friend Rod, a TSA agent, who definitely comes across as a bit odd. Funny, but odd.
This is what horror should be like – a good psychological thriller that gains further strength from relating to actually societal issues, race in this case. Not a blood-drenched gorno as is so often seen these days, as really sick people are basically glorified for their horrific actions. Some elements can be guessed, but others are much harder to predict in advance. At the end of the film, it could have gone full-on gore attack but Get Out doesn’t take this easy, and less impressive, option to tidy things up. Sure there is some violence at the end but it seems appropriate to the film and fits in with the story, rather than simply being in it for the sake of shock.
This is not a big-budget blood-spattered horror movie. Instead, it shows just what can be achieved with a small budget if that’s combined with a good, generally believable story that actually is based on real issues, rather than weirdness, combined with excellent acting. The major cast consists of Chris, Rose and her family, and the apparent normalness of some of the situation just throws the horrific elements into sharper focus. Get Out is a well written, well acted and quite impressive horror thriller that is definitely recommended.