Effortlessly articulate in its unabashed social consciousness and fearless in its evocation of delectably dream-like ambience, “Get Out” is something of a miracle in terms of the modern cinematic circuit; a brooding, remarkably intelligent picture that pays its respects to the horror masters of old while making way for the new. That the latter in question is none other than Jordan Peele, one half of subversive comic duo Key and Peele, only serves to make the film’s enduring taste all the sweeter.
While Peele is hardly the most likely candidate that comes to mind when faced with the task of delivering grueling terror, he’s no stranger to the festering racial tensions that his debut actively confronts. In this case, Chris (Daniel Kaluuyah), an established photographer and all around exceedingly likably guy, is the vehicle and the catalyst is the family of his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams), who he is soon to finally meet over a weekend getaway in the country.
While it’s safe to assume that Peele’s influences range far and wide, it’s perhaps most obvious that he’s taking significant pages from the Book of Polanski, as this turns out to be quite the enticing slow-burn. Rose’s family appears to be a jolly bunch – a little too jolly, in fact – and the presence of two African American servants who act as if they’re trapped inside their own bodies is certainly foreboding. Chris’ social isolationism and apprehension toward his partner’s kin plays well against old-timey interiors and a sequence of increasingly odd incidents, one example of which being a collision with a deer on the backroads early in the film, a harbinger of worse things to come, and another being a midnight cigarette break that turns into a trauma-bearing hypnotism session courtesy of Rose’s mother (Catherine Keener).
This is as rich and brave a brew as they come, but at its heart, “Get Out” is a scathing critique of liberal bigotry; a portrait of a toxic mindset which ultimately does more harm than good in spite of assuming the contrary. It’s decidedly serious stuff, though roughly half the fun is watching Peele and company flirt with conventions with such an obvious affection for genre blissfully in-tact. This is an exceptional entertainment that makes no attempt to conceal its intentions, and it shouldn’t have to; simply getting to the heart of the problem, and daring to challenge it like Peele does here, is more than enough.
Besides, there’s plenty of intimate deception, nosebleeds, and blind man’s bingo to tide one over until the storm. There’s also no shortage of humor to allow the darkness to go down a bit easier, most of it courtesy of Chris’ friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) back home, but what’s admirable is how the film doesn’t once let its meticulously crafted guard down. Peele commits to his anger and anxieties all the way to the bittersweet end, and if nothing else, his passion is the unmistakable mark of vision.
If this is his entrance onto the scene, then it’s an unforgettable one; and if this is his voice, it’s been heard loud and clear. More terrifying than the film’s implications where racial politics are concerned – like the best the genre has to offer, “Get Out” envisions cinema as a mirror – is the fact that Peele can only get better from here on out. If it can even be argued whether or not he displays a master’s hand now, just wait a few years. He’ll surely attain it in no time.