Looking back at last year’s slate of mainstream horror movies it’s actually quite impressive how many good horror films there were. “Conjuring 2”, “Lights Out”, “Don’t Breathe”, “The Witch”, “Green Room” (if you consider that a horror film) and so on. 2017 has a lot to live up too. With the exception of “The Bye Bye Man” (which I didn’t see but I have a feeling I didn’t miss much), 2017 is already off to an impressive start. With the release of “Split”, “A Cure for Wellness” (despite my mixed score I think it’s a very interesting film and worth a watch) and now this latest film Jordan Peele’s directorial debut “Get Out” horror seems to be moving in the right direction for this year.
Peele is a new voice for the horror genre, one that is, of course, more synecious with comedy and his comedy partner Keagan Michael Key (both of which lent their writing talents to last year’s comedy “Keanu”). I was surprised to hear his level of interest in the horror genre and that he would attempt to direct the movie himself. Looking back on it, it makes sense that he would choose this to be his directorial debut. Low budget horror is a good breeding ground for filmmakers looking to make it as a director in the business (just look at “Furious 7” director James Wan and “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derickson). Here, Peele mostly succeeds at crafting a solid and well-done horror film; packed with social commentary, humor and a generous amount of creepiness. “Get Out” is by no means a perfect film (and it’s high critical rating is a bit surprising to me) but it makes me look forward to the next movie directed by Jordan Peele
Many great horror films all pack themselves with social commentary in some form or another. It’s arguably the most political genre in force today. “Get Out” wears its social commentary on its sleeve (and sometimes a bit too on the nose) but makes for an interesting premise and discusses the topic of racism in an interesting light. “Get Out” follows an interracial couple, Chris, and Rose, as Chris is finally about to meet Rose’s white upper-class parents out on the countryside. Naturally, this is a horror movie so strange things occur as Chris begins to realize there is something really wrong with Rose’s parents.
I won’t go into further detail than that but the movie doesn’t waste much time inciting the strangeness of the premise which includes hypnotism. For the most part, this comes across like a pretty “original” film (that certainly riffs and pays homage to classic horror films of old). If it’s not original than its premise really helps break up the large amount of paranormal horror films we’ve been getting dealt recently. Peele has said that he wanted this film to show the experience of being black in this country and also what it’s like to be the outsider in a group. I believe he also cited George A. Romeo’s “Night of the Living Dead” as a source of inspiration (which also has racial themes integrated into the movie). As I said before the themes of the movie are sometimes a bit on the nose (then again you could argue that “Zootopia” was too) but it never reaches the lack of subtle nature that dramas like “Crash” does. You can feel Peele’s passionate voice for the topic throughout the film.
Peele though is wise to mix it with clever satire and comedy that sometimes pokes fun at the topic as well. The comedy is of course not just about that (and this movie has surprising array of jokes) but having comedy does bring some much needed levity to the picture. The movie never feels preachy (which is an accomplishment in itself). Sometimes there is a bit too much comedy and didn’t always fit the tone but for the most part it was a healthy balance.
However, this movie wouldn’t work unless Peele brought in the creep factor. Peele manages to bring atmosphere and also a solid amount of scares to the film. I think the biggest strength of the movie is the atmosphere. It’s more creepy than scary. Some of the imagery in the movie is quite interesting and somewhat trippy. The movie certainly picks up its horror more in the second half than the first. The first half of the movie I think leans a little too much on its comedy and sometimes comes across as unintentionally funny.
It took me a little bit to warm up to the movie’s tone and for the plot to get moving (as I said this isn’t a perfect movie). The lead of the movie is Daniel Kaluuya. Kaluuya is a very likable lead and one you want to root for. I’ve enjoyed him in other roles but there were times I felt his acting felt a bit more limited. Allison Williams is very good in the movie. She reminded me of a cross between a young Jennifer Connelly and Kate Mara. The two parents are appropriate creepy Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford plays their roles well. LilRel Howery brings most of the comedy in the movie and he is absolutely hilarious. A well-chosen cast for sure.
“Get Out” didn’t blow me away. I thought the ending was also a bit too safe and didn’t put the character through the ringer as much as he probably should have. Although the movie didn’t blow me away “Get Out” is a solid and well-made horror film. It’s unique, has a lot of interesting things to say, has some great atmosphere and a good cast. Jordan Peele has a unique voice and I am really excited to see what he does next with his career in the directing and writing field. I like that horror movies like this are being made and attempted. It’s well worth a trip to the cinema to experience it.