What Get Out may lack in surface-level originality it surpasses in striking command of tone and point-of-view. We’ve seen the “creepy strangers aren’t who they first seem” horror trope countless times before, but rarely has a film conveyed it as tensely and purposefully as we see here. This is a bold, cunning, satirical, very funny and very scary debut feature film by writer/director Jordan Peele, a timely, thought-provoking subversion of genre and expectation that projects all the confidence and craft of a far more seasoned filmmaker.
The film’s mission statement is obvious from its opening scene in which we’re first introduced to Atlanta’s own LaKeith Stanfield, tremendous as always, wandering the streets of an upscale suburb. Sporting “urban” attire and a general aura of displacement, it’s clear, even before the tension ratchets up (both to himself and the audience), that he doesn’t belong. Whether you agree or disagree with Peele’s politics or world-view, there’s no denying the hypersensitive nature of topics as taboo as race and class; that each is explored as personally and specifically here through the prism of horror-satire, at this high of a level, is wickedly impressive.
Actors and screen-partners Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams bring so much to their respective roles; Kaluuya the good-natured skeptic and Williams the head-in-the-clouds liberal rich girl each do their part in both subverting and reinforcing the “type” they’re asked to play. Other key performances from Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, and Stephen Root each contribute so much to the tense, eerie atmosphere present in every scene, and LilRel Howry’s equally outstanding as the film’s lone overtly comedic character.
But the true star here is Peele, who’s comprised a film that’s both beautifully photographed and decisively prescient, with each side amounting to a captivating, provocative overall experience. I mentioned earlier that the film’s surface-level originality may be lacking, but that’s only if you’re unwilling to see past the outward mechanics of its plot. This is a densely layered thrill-ride full of numerous scenes worthy of in-depth analysis and discussion, and one that’ll be occupying the space in my brain for some time.
Rating: **** 1/2 out of five
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Stephen Root, LilRel Howry
Runtime: 103 minutes