Director: Jordan Peele
Screenwriter: Jordan Peele
Runtime: 104 mins
Australian release date: 4 May 2017
Previewed at: Universal Pictures Theatrette, Millers Point, Sydney on 7 April 2017
Get Out, the debut directorial effort of African-American comedian Jordan Peele, is a low-budget horror flick that turns the traditional tropes of most horror films on their head. In this movie, it’s not the white girl stumbling through a black neighbourhood who’s in danger; it’s the black dude walking the streets of an affluent white suburb who’s at risk. Peele, who also wrote the script, has a lot of fun as he’s scaring the pants off us, and the gag is that the racists in Get Out don’t think of themselves as racist at all. On the contrary, they describe themselves as liberals and proudly declare they voted for Obama.
African-American photography student Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is packing for a weekend away at the suburban home of his white girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents when he asks if she has told her folks that he’s black. They’re cool, Rose says, and indeed, when they arrive at the middle-class house of Dean and Missy Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) the couple is greeted fondly. If there’s any discomfort at all, in fact, it’s because the older pair try too hard to make Chris feel welcome. It’s only when Chris is introduced to the ‘help,’ gardener Walter (Marcus Henderson) and maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel), that things begin to appear a little odd. But later in the weekend, when the Armitage’s friends and neighbours gather for an annual drinks party, Chris truly starts to feel that he’s crossed over into some kind of parallel universe and that things aren’t quite as they seem. His alarm bells really commence a’clanging after he takes a photo of another ‘brother’ he meets at the function and suddenly Chris is ready to head back to the city, only to find that ‘Black Lives Matter,’ particularly to the bourgeois white Americans who populate the suburbs in Get Out.
Peele’s film raises a number of social and racial issues under the guise of the horror genre, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1960s and ‘70s, when movies like The Stepford Wives and Night of the Living Dead were released. Indeed, in interviews the director has particularly referenced the former film because of the way it “dealt with social issues in regards to gender. I just thought, that’s proof that you can pull off a movie about race, that’s a thriller and entertaining and fun,” he said. And in that he’s certainly succeeded.