Feb. 24, 2017 saw the release of comedian Jordan Peele’s highly anticipated directorial debut, “Get Out.” Considering the film’s meager budget of $4.5 million, it’s been wildly successful in the box office, netting $33.4 million the weekend of its release. Aesthetically, this was as ambitious of a project as it was quaint, as Peele provides thought-provoking social commentary through the lens of a horror plot situation while integrating a brand of comedic relief not unlike what we saw in Peele’s former Comedy Central sketch comedy series “Key and Peele.” Considering the difficulty of undertaking such a project, it has to be said that Peele was extremely successful in his making of “Get Out.”
The film opens with a young man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) preparing with his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), to meet the latter’s parents for a weekend getaway. From the get-go, Chris is concerned about the fact that Rose’s white parents have not been made aware that he is black. Rose laughs off these worries, remarking that her parents are in no way racist people.
When Chris meets Rose’s family, nothing seems to be overtly problematic, but there are dark undertones. Subtle nuances like the two household servants both being black and Rose’s brother remarking that Chris’ “genetic makeup” would make him a “beast” of a fighter exemplify this.
As the movie progresses, a mood of uneasiness grows more and more prevalent. Among many factors contributing to this uneasiness, the most notable one is that every black person connected with Rose’s family that Chris interacts with seems to be acting immensely strange, as if in some sort of a trance.
The plotline that Peele presents functions to provide his social critique of modern day race relations. Part of what makes the film so special, however, is that Peele does not take the easy route of targeting overtly racist American rednecks. Instead, he artfully points out hypocrisy of white collar Americans who could never be described as overtly racist. Rose’s family, a wealthy upper class household, on face value is extremely polite and kind to Chris, but so much so that they are obviously hiding sinister undercurrents. Rose’s father at one point remarks that he would have voted for Obama for a third term, pinpointing the kinds of people that Peele is addressing.
Peele’s social commentary is fascinating, but he integrates is so expertly that it doesn’t overshadow other aspects of the film. It truly is a chillingly exciting film that always has the viewer on the edge of their seat. In perspective, it’s slightly astonishing that “Get Out” is a directorial debut, as Peele demonstrates a masterful understanding of horror filmmaking. The evolution of the frightening mood he cultivates is not something one would expect from the debut of a comedian.
Given that he is a comedian, however, the expertise with which he weaves comedic relief into the film is less unexpected. The recurring but not overbearing comedic dialogue adds to the film’s overall charisma.
“Get Out” exceeded all expectations. It’s a provocative, genuinely frightening, witty, and thought-provoking ride that makes for a wonderfully enjoyable film to experience. The film’s relevance coupled with its brilliant uniqueness earns it 5 out of 5 stars.