It isn’t the usual trend for one of the year’s most hotly received Horror movies to be released as early as March, and yet the buzz going around for “Get Out” has been almost intoxicating. I did my best to go into this with a totally flat level of anticipation, but did this really succeed in breathing life into the genre?
Things focus on a young couple, the girl named Rose (Allisan Williams), and boyfriend named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya). They are setting out to meet Rose’s parents for the first time, with Chris being quietly apprehensive about it. Things seem normal as they arrive there and meet the parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener), but the strange attitude of the housekeepers and weirdly pseudo-racist remarks by those around him have Chris feeling that there is something going on that he hasn’t been told of.
That is enough to set up the story without entering any spoiler territory, ad for very good reasons that you’ll realise when you go see this. If anything, the trailers that have been floating around will not lead you towards what this is about, and where the narrative ends up going, so in a similar way to “Cabin in the Woods”, you can enter this quite cold.
The primary element that keeps floating to the surface is the attitudes between African-Americans, and others in the U.S. I mean, you can’t miss it at all. And rather than simply saying racism is bad, it goes out of it’s way to highlight even the small details that while well-intended, end up being themselves being reaction used just for African-Americans. For example, the immediate assumption that Chris is good at sports or is strong. From when Rose and Chris begin to bring it up, you start seeing it here and there throughout the conversations, and it is honestly, unnerving. I always had this uneasy feeling in my stomach that something was going to set everything off in a blaze, or that something more nefarious was being constructed.
And yet the genius lies in how the camera work and design to each scene makes it all feel so normal, not like the design of a Horror film at all. Without this main context it could easily be some sleepy drama or romance story, so when something does get said or done that is out of place, it REALLY sticks out in an almost outlandish manner. It is something that some of the earlier classics in the genre would have incorporated too, getting the audience to be fearful that such a thing could happen in so normal a neighbourhood.
When the story does take that shift, the brilliance of the cinematography had me stunned. I mean, in a sense like I was during “Under the Skin”, it was a ruthlessly simple technique that combined with the sound effects and score, was made to feel completely numbing. I mean fuck… what a brilliant way to capture a single event, and illustrate it for the audience in a way they could instantly connect to. There is certainly an artistic visual style running through the DNA of the script, a small addition that goes a big way towards cementing your attention in what is going on. At times it feels like a spartan aesthetic from the 1970’s, and yet… in others is very refreshing.
Going into the performances, the lead roles by Allison and Daniel are perfect, their casting was absolutely spot-on. Daniel just seems to nail down his character in a way that he perfectly understands and uses to carry almost every single scene that he resides in. Which really is saying something when as I said earlier, it is all designed to feel everyday and normal, and so getting an extraordinary performance out of something like that isn’t easy to do at all. Rose is going to be the initial avatar for the audience, but that will slowly shift to Daniel’s character as we begin to see things from his perspective. Unlike in other films where this is done in too harshly a manner to be appreciated, here it is subtle, and takes place in an organic manner. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are riveting as Rose’s parents, which I was not expecting to see at all. But without spoiling, their dualities upon reflection afterwards are just fascinating to think about.A shout out too to Lil’ Rel Howery, performing as a TSA Officer and Chris’s best friend, who provided much of the movie’s comedy. This is given at times when the narrative desires it, and his performance is wonderfully energetic and full of wit that gave me plenty of laughs.
Now onto the Horror aspect, which I…. dammit, can’t really discuss in detail. It will suffice to go into some broad details, such as the tone being one that gnaws at your suspicions and creates tension, rather than being some big ol’ slasher fic. You get very few moments without being on the edge of your seat, or deep in thought about what you had just seen. The end gives a hell of a big return for all of your investment though, one that you will be totally satisfied with.
But one of the biggest praises I have to offer this is one that can if done badly, hurt films in this genre. And that is wasted material. Typically you get scenes that develop romance, or set up a tertiary plot point, or just ramble, without delivering much if anything to the actual story. But in here, there is NO WASTE. None. Every scene has a reason, every moment is giving a clue or raising doubt in the viewer. And by the end credits you will start to think back on some of the scenes and realise that all of it had been of use. It is one of the Holy Grails in Horror to achieve, and this somehow… did it. In fact, I didn’t find any problems to bring up. Some of the facial gestures are at the time, too weird. (you’ll know what I’m on about when you see them) But that gripe was temporary and nothing more.
During the review I made comparisons to the hidden details of “Cabin in the Woods” and the visual flair of “Under the Skin”. Both of which have very fond places in my movie collection. And “Get Out” has earned a spot on the top shelf for me. Even with the high buzz being aimed its way, I did not expect to be absolutely floored as I ended up being by it. I mean it cost less than $10 million, doesn’t have a single flashy scene to speak of, and is a completely new property. This is so against the norm in the genre that it has shaken up the foundations in a big fucking way. It manages to highlight some big talking points within America, and a thriller in suspense in one beautifully crafted product. This is, and probably will remain so by the end of the year, one of the best films of 2017.
I fucking loved it.
Thanks for reading!