When word first spread that after ending Key and Peele on Comedy Central Jordan Peele was going on to write and direct a horror film, it was difficult to conceive. There was no question that Peele knew how to write and act in comedy, but to jump into a completely different genre was considered a huge change of direction. Yet, what the moviegoing public learned in February of 2017 was that not only could Jordan Peele deliver outside of the comedy realm, but he was able to create a genuine, original horror/thriller classic. One that revolutionizes the horror genre. That film is Get Out.
Chris Washington (an Oscar-nominated performance by Daniel Kaluuya) is meeting the family of his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) for the first time during a weekend trip to her family’s estate in the woods. Being Rose’s first black boyfriend, Chris is apprehensive about the entire trip. On their day of arrival, Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy Armitage (wonderfully played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener, respectively) and her brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones, who also stars in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), begin with their discomfiting conversations with Chris, focusing on topics revolving around Chris’ race. Dean’s comment of, “If I could, I would have voted for Obama for a third term,” is just the beginning of these conversations. However, when dozens of older and wealthy white people arriving for the Armitage annual get-together take an interest in Chris, and as Chris notices odd behavior amongst the few black estate workers, it becomes clear to him that something is wrong. His fears grow more frighteningly as Chris discovers he has fallen into “the sunken place.”
Jordan Peele’s screenplay has created a new genre for film: the “social thriller.” While the film centers on a racial divide, Peele doesn’t go the easy route and write about neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan. Instead, he goes the route of uncomfortable infatuation and, in some way, appropriation. He presents a group of people who, when presented with someone of a different culture, feel they can only discuss topics that they believe relate to the person judged solely on the color of that person’s skin. Peele then mixes this with a horror aspect that screams of Alfred Hitchcock. This community of rich, white people is fueled by a belief that is as much psychologically horrifying as it is physically.
Peele’s direction embodies beautifully what he has written on paper, presenting claustrophobic close-ups and memorable images that stick with you days after viewing the film. Accompanied by a cast that put every ounce of their talent into the portrayal of their characters, Get Out should go down as one of the most original, frightening and socially-focused films of our time. In this writer’s opinion, it is one of the best thrillers ever created.
Get Out has earned four Academy Award nominations: Best Film, a Best Actor nod for Daniel Kaluuya and two nominations for Jordan Peele’s original screenplay and directing. If you haven’t yet, Get Out is available on digital download, as well as Blu-Ray, DVD and on HBO. This is a film worthy of multiple viewings, for both, it’s sociological impact and its thrilling entertainment. This one deserves to be in your queue.