Jordan Peele, of the power house comedy duo Key and Peele, is definitely onto something with his craft. The best material has a kernel of truth rooted somewhere in it. With comedy, truth can illicit genuine laughter from audiences who are able to relate. Drama becomes more grounded when it provides some sort of commentary on our reality. Key and Peele has been such a success because of it’s comedic take on race issues and black stereotypes. With Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out, he tackles similar issues using the psychological thriller genre as his conduit.
When a young interracial couple’s relationship progresses to the level of coming home to meet the parents, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is skeptical Rose’s (Allison Williams) white parents will be accepting of him being black. While at first the family seems accepting of their relationship, Chris is grows more suspicious as he learns the community as a history of young black men disappearing.
The best horror movies have a realism factor that helps make the audience uneasy. The opening scene of the movie was a fantastic one-shot that captured the uneasiness a black man can feel walking alone at night and feel like he’s constantly being watched. All of the marketing for Get Out made this movie out to be a great original thriller playing off the racial tension between blacks and whites. The fact Jordan Peele wrote the movie gave me hope that he would treat this topic the way it deserves.
Unfortunately, that is not the case here. Racism is an ugly thing that can bring out the worst parts of people. In the movie, it never progresses past the superficial. There’s a scene that takes place on the family’s lawn where Chris meets Rose’s extended family, and they are all making comments on his body and genetic make-up. Within the context of the plot the comments make sense, but they aren’t to the degree of racism expected to give genuine fear. The movie briefly touches on the idea of systematic racism, but again it doesn’t go any deeper than surface issues. All the dialogue in this movie that’s rooted in racism is nothing more than uncomfortable comments in passing conversation. It’s a shame the movie doesn’t do more with this material since sometimes the most dangerous racist is the passive one.
One of the bigger issues with this movie is it’s inconsistency. Peele’s strongest when it comes to comedy and there are some genuine laughs here, but they stick out like a sore thumb when the movie immediately reminds you that it’s supposed to be a thriller. The movie will go from making a joke about attitudes towards Obama straight out of Key and Peele, and then follow it up with a jump scare. The movie also commits a decent amount of time to Chris’s friend Rod (Lil Rel Howrey) looking into his friends disappearance. This completely derails the movie as the plot goes from a tense hypnotism scene to Rod’s hilarious antics with the police department.
Speaking of jump scares, Get Out runs through every trope of the thriller genre. There’s sudden loudness for jump scares that aren’t scary otherwise. There’s tension building scores highlighting scenes that are supposed to be plot twists that don’t feel deserved. The movie ultimately results in a crazy bloodbath that foregoes the horror for an over-the-top finale. It honestly feels like Jordan Peele decided he wanted to write a thriller, and just played it safe by doing what all the typical blockbuster thrillers do.
Jordan Peele is a good writer when it comes to his comedy, and it’s a shame that aspect felt absent from this movie. The dialogue just doesn’t feel believable. It might be the lackluster performances from the cast all around, but most of the conversations in this movie feel shoehorned into the plot. The romance between the two leads isn’t strong enough to root for the inherent issues with an interracial couple. The performances from the hypnotised help feel robotic and disjointed, and not in a good way one would expect for that kind of performance. The standout performer in this movie is Lil Rel Howrey, however he is out of place because he is so funny — but it’s inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the movie.
Get Out is not completely bad. There’s enough here that works to make this movie a solid guilty pleasure. The hypnotism sequences were well-executed and stand out as the best this movie has to offer, as well as the strong opening scene. The movie presents some clear issues with racism, but unfortunately doesn’t do enough with them to have any real pay off.
Get Out was ultimately a disappointment. It had so much potential to be a great psychological thriller rooted in racial issues, and prove that Jordan Peele was just as strong in other genres as he is in comedy. The film falls flat with it’s lackluster performances, poorly executed ideas, and sticking to every trick from the thriller playbook. This is not the instant cult classic everyone was hoping for, but more a guilty pleasure you can turn on with your next Netflix and Chill date.
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