Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele, has you hooked by its unsettling mystery and oddball characters. This is one of those films that never really allows you to relax or feel at ease. At all times there is that hint of tension; there is the worry of some impending horror. For someone who is most known for his comedy chops, director Jordan Peele is able to effortlessly keep you on edge and playing his game. But when it all unravels, and some of the more interesting decisions become ever more present, I found myself feeling ever so slightly disappointed. The best way to break it all down is to get on with the fuller review. So let’s do that.
In the film we follow Chris Washington – played by Daniel Kaluuya – and his girlfriend Rose Armitage – played by Allison Williams – as they take part in something that every couple dreads: meeting the parents. What makes Chris feel even more on edge is that he is the first black boyfriend that Rose has brought home to meet her parents. Things seem normal and welcoming, until of course things begin to become odder. It isn’t long until Chris is quite eager to leave, but that’s not going to be as easy as it first seems.
So it is in both the unease that you forever feel and the mystery of why both you and the main character feel so uneasy that the film keeps you engaged. I like a film that can introduce a tense atmosphere and then hold it for long portions of the film – Get Out is certainly able to achieve that. And it does that through its characters and the situation primarily.
But director Jordan Peele also achieves that tense, uneasy feeling through very memorable imagery. It is often sudden and it sticks in your mind for some time after it’s occurred. It isn’t anything grotesque – like most horror films do, in the hopes of holding your attention. It’s creepier, and outside the norm, and thus it just burrows quickly, but intensely into your head and stays there. There is also the use of sound design, which along with the character who becomes more and more affected by it, you also have it creeping into your brain and causing mild levels of discomfort. Peele utilises techniques that have been prevalent in smart, memorable horror films and shows a great understanding of the craft, which in turn just gives, us the audience, more to experience.
So while the film is messing with you, and having you exactly in the state of mind that it wants you to be in. You are also constantly trying to decipher just what the hell is going on – along with the primary protagonist, Chris – and having that be something that both you and the main character are doing is what I think pulls you in and hooks you to wanting to be a part of the experience. It helps that it’s not difficult to want to support Chris and be a part of his story. He’s going through something that anyone can relate too (meeting the parents of your significant other) and the level of difficulty that is added to his meeting of the parents only heightens that want to follow along and support him.
It also helps that the performance by Daniel Kaluuya is one that feels real. He questions things, he responds to situations like a normal thinking person would. Kaluuya playing the character that way also means you never feel the need to roll your eyes. This isn’t a film where you feel the need to shout at the screen telling the seemingly brain-dead protagonist, “Don’t go into the water!”
But then beyond the main protagonist, you have the creepy but interesting family. From both an actor choice (people I’ve seen in other films where they have primarily played sweet, endearing characters most of the time) to their performances, which from the very first time they appear on-screen have you unsettled. All makes for a film that perfectly puts all the pieces in place, and then begins to make them play-out their devious means.
The only character I wasn’t sure about, and felt his inclusion could really harm the film was Rod Williams – played by LilRel Howery. At first I enjoyed his little moments where he would add some comic relief and genuinely make me laugh. But characters like that in horror films always get taken too far and diminish the tone and the intensity of the later, more frightening moments. Unfortunately, Get Out doesn’t escape that problem. The characters inclusion increased until the point that he felt like an annoying distraction; one whose part in it all made the later parts of the film lose their intensity and seriousness. This was probably one of the main factors, but sadly not the only one that saw me losing engagement and enjoyment later on in the film.
*No Spoilers! In this next section of the review of I’m going to be touching upon the story/plot, but will not be referencing anything directly, so as to avoid spoiling the film. *
So as I’ve already said, the beginning of the film really had me hooked. It set-up and began to play out things that had my attention for sure. But as it all began to unravel and I continued to correctly predict more and more of the twists (sometimes well in advance of their reveal); my engagement and my willingness to invest in the film slowly but definitely lessened.
The film’s final act was a let-down for me. In the beginning I was so interested in seeing how things would play out, and what exactly was going to be the answers to the many odd things that had been set-up. But as the answers came, and the more shocking of moments occurred, I felt, well meh about it all. The film never truly surprised me, nor did it ever shock me. It all just fell a little flat; feeling more like a schlocky horror movie ending and less like what it first seemed to be heading towards. It was disappointing.
But here’s the interesting thing: This film in the hands of another director could have fully been a schlocky horror movie with nothing of substance. Writer, Director Jordan Peele was able to pull something out of this film; he was able to offer something that was still interesting. It just didn’t hit a home run. There was no cinematic wow moment or a story/character reveal that left me altering my entire outlook on the rest of the film. It was just another horror film that tried something really interesting, but just didn’t reach its full potential.
I know I’m an outlier when it comes to my feelings on particular parts of Get Out. People love this film and are raving about it (which in some aspects I can understand). But maybe that’s a factor for why it wasn’t what I thought it to be – too much hype. But it does still leave me in a difficult spot, recommendation wise.
I will recommend Get Out and here’s why. There is still enough to this film to make it worth seeing. That this is Jordan Peele’s first time directing and he pulled off something as interesting as this, makes it something to take notice of. So while it didn’t have the overall desired effect on me, I still think most people will find what they’re looking for with Get Out. There is certainly something special in this film, but just not to the levels that some people may be touting.
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