TL;DR – Get out is a masterpiece in tension, cinematography and action, it is perfectly cast, amazingly directed, and deeply affecting.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Wow, I had no idea, absolutely none, about just how good this film would be, and from a first-time features director no less. Get Out is a masterpiece from the acting, to the cinematography, to the music, everything, seriously this is the first 5 out of 5 film for 2017. Now because of the type of film that it is I can’t really discuss it without immediately getting into spoilers, so because of this, and also because it has been out in the rest of the world for months, this is going to be a [FULL SPOILER REVIEW] so if you have not seen it beware that we will be holding nothing back and it will be best if you go in as spoiler free as possible, a sentiment not held up by the trailer it seems. So if you want a non-spoiler review let me just say no movie has affected me in this way in a very long time and I highly recommend it as it is a masterpiece of cinema. So with that in mind, this is your last chance because we go full spoiler now.
So let’s start with the story, so if you had any doubts if there were actually going to be spoilers well prepare yourself because here we go. I loved the story to Get Out because it was always setting you up to think the movie is one thing before ripping the rug out from underneath you and going nope lol you have no idea. Straight from the start, we know something is seriously messed up in the world because we see Andre (LaKeith Stanfield) assaulted and kidnapped but we have no idea what the motivations for the attack are, well you have a good idea but not a concrete one. Well cut to Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) getting ready to meet Rose’s parents for the first time deep in the sticks of the USA and then the question drops ‘do they know I’m black’. From here you get a good sense of where the film is going to go, which is reinforced by the interactions with the police officer on the drive up, the odd domestic helpers, and the guests at the party all strengthen this set up for a racially charged film. But no they are not luring black people because they because they hate them, they are doing it because it a better market for their weird old white clients. It’s one of those moments that when it’s revealed and it re-casts everything you have seen before you sit there in awe at how you didn’t see it coming. This also happens with Rose’s family and the guests, Get Out kind of goes out of its way to give the impression that Missy (Catherine Keener) is controlling everyone through hypnosis and then there is this wonderful moment where Chris is desperately trying to leave as Rose is trying to find the keys to their car as her mother Missy, father Dean (Bradley Whitford) and brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) close in, and then the penny drops. It has been a long time since I have seen an ‘oh damn’ moment as powerful as that.
Another area where the story shines is in creating strong but also smart characters that act believably in the circumstances. So often in the horror, or thriller genre the characters either act in ways that nobody would in the circumstances because they need to due to the plot or just do stupid things that give the impression that they wanted to die, this is not the case with Get Out. Chris acts in believable ways at all time based on the information that he knows, sure we the audience knows that there is something more sinister afoot, but Chris doesn’t. At first, all the weirdness that he experiences could just be written off to stupid stuff white people do who have never met anyone outside their social circle. Then as time goes on and things start getting even weirder he is trying to not make it an issue so as not to upset Rose. However, the moment he finds the photos and realised that this is not just an odd family that was weirding him out, but that something is seriously messed up his first response is to get the hell out of there. He uses his phone to take a picture of someone acting odd to show his friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) which was a smart move, he tells people that he should be able to trust what is happening, and while only 50% of them are trustworthy that’s not really on him. Even as we go throughout they film there are these moments when characters act odd or out of place, however by the end everything that happens makes sense.
Now the reason why these stories elements work as well as they do is a combination of how wonderfully they are filmed and how committed the actors are to pulling it off. So much of the intense emotional moments of Get Out is filmed in extreme close-up, which means everything in the actor’s performance is exposed. This leads to scenes like Georgina (Betty Gabriel) who is someone pretending to be someone else who in a moment of extreme stress has that other people try to break free, and you see every facet of that in her performance, or Chris slowly reliving the day where he ignored that his mother was late coming home because he feared the answer meanwhile his mother is on the street dying after being hit by a car, his grief, his guilt is there in the performance. Also, it was way Allison Williams played two very different characters in the film, but each of them felt like real people, her relationship with Chris felt real, none of that fake romanticism that you often see, but believable love. It is the believability though her acting that makes her turn hit that much harder, especially as within moments she is playing a different character that feels just as complete as the one we saw moments ago. Everybody is given their best performance in this film, like Rod who is Chris’ friend who works at the airport, he could have just been there for the comic relief, a way to ease some of the tension, but he is more than that, he acts like a real person that cares for his friend, even in the face of ridicule. It also has a supporting cast that is mostly playing off type which creates this fascinating dichotomy of you projecting past performances of the characters on these only to have that fall apart. Take Catherine Keener who I remembered from The 40-Year-Old-Virgin and Bradley Whitford that of course, I remember fondly from The West Wing. They both give this beautiful performance of this friendly guise with some awkwardness which you would expect given the circumstances but there is also this off-putting undercurrent that grows throughout the movie that is wonderfully shown in their performances. This is also true of some of the smaller roles like Stephen Root who you have those memories of his performances in shows like Brooklyn Nine Nine and yet here he could not be further from his character. Look I could go on more but just trust me the characters are wonderfully performed and also filmed and I am sure this will be a case study in bringing emotion to the screen for many a year to come.
We’ve talked about the acting and the story but we have to take a moment to look at the amazing cinematography, editing, and other choices that came together to make this astounding film. Now straight from the start, I have to give big props to Jordan Peele who wrote and directed Get Out. While of course, he has been in the industry for a long time this is his first time directing a feature film. The closest I have seen someone matching Jordan with their debut film is last year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane by Dan Trachtenberg, which is interesting because they share similar themes and sensibilities, and a focus on the details. Take the music from the opening scene of the film we are brought straight into this world with a rendition of ‘Run Rabbit Run’ as someone is hunted down and captured in front of us, now if you are Australian then you will get weird flashbacks to a tourism ad from the 2000s that has now been cast in a very different light. Throughout the rest of the film, there is this haunting use of vocals and percussion to create a soundscape that is a perfect accompaniment. As well as the music, I have to also point out the fascinating use of sound, like the sound of a metal spoon hitting the side of a teacup, or in places the use of silence to ratchet up the tension and to obscure what is going on.
Another way in which this film excels is in how it deals with the tension, building that disquiet in every scene, waiting for it to reach a crescendo and then boom jump scare or some other sort of resolution. Now I hate jump scares as a film technique because they are usually used as a lazy way for getting a reaction out of the audience, a reaction that is forced and not earned, and while you get the reaction the fakeness of it is felt by the audience. In Get Out there is none of that, the jump scare feels earned because it came at just the right moment, after minutes of build-up and it had a great big noisy sound effect added on top to make it pop even more. This is the type of horror I really like not the blood and gore, it’s the tension the feeling that something is wrong, that at any moment things could fall apart and Get Out shows a master class of creating tension, maintaining it, and resolving it at just the right moment. It also nails the tone of the film because it is deeply unsettling, and part of this is because of the dialogue but also how they chose to shoot the film and editing it to give it a slightly discordant feel, giving you the feeling that something is wrong and all times. If this is Jordan Peele’s first film goodness could you imagine how good his second or third film will be.
[END OF SPOILERS] In the end, good movies engage, great movies entertain, and fantastic movies make you feel and while I can’t say it was a positive feeling, Get Out stayed with me all day, in the back of my head, sitting there taking up space. Seriously, I can’t recommend Get Out enough, my big fear is that it is going to get lost in the sea of Guardians of the Galaxy, but please if you can, can I say go see Get Out, because it will impact you.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Directed by – Jordan Peele
Story by – Jordan Peele
Music by – Michael Abels
Cinematography by – Toby Oliver
Edited by – Gregory Plotkin
Starring – Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson, LaKeith Stanfield & Stephen Root
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; NZ: R; UK: 15; USA: R