Horror films can be fun, entertaining, chilling and scary. But what I love most about horror films is that they can talk about social and political issues without patronizing the audience: it happened with racism in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, AIDS epidemic in 1982’s The Thing, consumerism and subliminal messages in They Live, and more recently depression and grief in The Babadook. Even though it might be too early, I feel confident in saying that Get Out is one of the smartest and most socially relevant horror movies of the decade.
Get Out is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, and it stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford. Since its release in February, the movie has since surpassed its $4.5 million budget with over $200 million in worldwide box office.
The story could have easily been a blatant metaphor of racism: black guy with white girlfriend meets her parents. However, Jordan Peele subverts all expectations, giving the audience a chilling and entertaining roller coaster ride. After the one-shot opening, the first act is subtle and introduces us to the characters through their actions rather than expository dialogue; the second act is surreal and disturbing, with unusual situations that are weirdly easy to relate to; the third act is a culmination of all the tension, with an explosion of violence that is cathartic and satisfying without having to be needlessly graphic and gory.
Coming from a white Italian student in his early 20s, the events that the lead goes through during the movie are highly relatable. There is a clear statement about modern racism and social ambiguity, where everyone, trying to be as politically correct as possible while also proving that they are not racist, comes off as unsettling and unnatural. The best way to accept someone that is “different” (i.e. not of your skin color, religion, political views, etc.) is to treat them like any other human being, not to acknowledge their difference and keep asking questions about how their life is.
While this does happen a lot to people of color or with non-heterosexual orientation, the same applies to most of today’s society: when I go to some friends’ houses or social events, parents and other people always try to be hip and cool with the kids, forcefully acting friendly and asking downright bizarre questions and making inappropriate statements that they find hilarious and relevant. Whenever this happens, I always find myself acting like our lead: smiling and nodding alongside them, while also trying to find the quickest excuse to go away. In a society ruled by neoliberals, social-justice warriors and political correctness, most interactions that we have every day feel fake, cold and calculated, as if everyone is following a mental scheme on how to act in the best possible way. Honesty is starting to fade away, and the majority lives in fear of not being accepted for who they really are, thus hiding their true self and wearing a mask that does not fit them at all.
Going back to the actual movie… it is brilliant. I was riveted throughout the entire runtime, with multiple twists and revelations that make sense in the greater scheme of the story. The tension is brilliantly constructed, with a growing sense of dread and fear that I rarely experienced in a modern horror movie. With the exception of some over-the-top side characters, the acting is great: Daniel Kaluuya as our hero carries most of the movie on his shoulders and manages to create a believable character without being stereotypical or having a forced backstory through expository dialogue; Allison Williams as the girlfriend plays a character that has more layers than I first thought she did; Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener as the parents are very eerie, especially the latter, whose chilling stare and calm demeanor truly got under my skin.
The aesthetic of the movie is gorgeous: with a big emphasis on practical effects, the house of the Armitages feels lived in, while the now infamous Sunken Place is a brilliantly surreal and highly original location that I am not going to forget any time soon. A perfect metaphor for our society, where your screams are completely silent. The music is very good (especially the unsettling main theme by Michael Abels), and the orchestral stings during jump scares are a great homage to old-school horrors. I only had a problem with some of the sound design during the climax in the house, with some sounds not delivering as much impact as they could have.
Overall, Get Out is one of the finest horror-thrillers I have seen in quite some time: chilling, unsettling, funny, relevant, entertaining and gripping, Jordan Peele knocks it out of the park with his first feature film. One of the best movies of 2017, and so far the best horror movie of the year.
Visual Effects: 8.5
Violence & Gore: 8.5
Sex & Nudity: 4
Drugs & Profanity: 5
Intensity & Horror: 8