(2017) (Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Horror: A young black man must contend with veiled racism and then outright terror when his white girlfriend takes him to meet her parents and others for the first time.
- Chris Washington (DANIEL KALUUYA) is a young photographer who's madly in love with his girlfriend, Rose Armitage (ALLISON WILLIAMS). Even so, he doesn't think it's a good idea that she hasn't told her parents -- neurosurgeon Dean (BRADLEY WHITFORD) and psychiatrist Missy (CATHERINE KEENER) -- that he's black and that they're going to learn that during their upcoming visit. Even Chris' TSA agent buddy, Rod Williams (LIL REL HOWERY), thinks it's a bad idea.
But Rose reassures Chris that her parents will be completely cool with that and they indeed seem that way even if Dean comes off a bit overzealous in welcoming Chris to the family. The same can't be said for Rose's brother, Jeremy (CALEB LANDRY JONES), however, who's somewhat aggressive, while the Armitages' African-American help -- Georgina (BETTY GABRIEL) the maid and Walter (MARCUS HENDERSON) the groundskeeper -- give off a weird and creepy vibe that Chris can't quite shake.
Things get worse when the family throws a party where mostly older white folks -- including blind art dealer Jim Hudson (STEPHEN ROOT) -- show up. And what seems like friendliness likewise comes off as unsettling, including from the lone black man, Logan (LAKEITH STANFIELD), who's there with a much older white woman and behaves somewhat like Georgina and Walter.
From that point on and as things start to go downhill from there, Chris tries to get Rose to leave with him, but must contend with the fact that Missy might have a grip on him from a previous hypnosis session.
- OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
- Let's face it -- racism can be a scary societal ill that still plagues most of the world. I say "can be" since racism can show up in any number of varieties and variations, some of which can be dangerous when an individual or group takes out their anger on innocent victims, while other forms are still troublesome, but don't always involve real or threatened violence.
And in that regard, some minor forms of racism can be somewhat funny in watching those in the racial majority try to look cool by demonstrating how they're not racist, but end up showing they are, even if just in very meager ways. Take, for instance, white folks who bring up being fans of famous black people when talking to an African-American person, something they wouldn't do if talking to a Caucasian or person of another race.
Such scary and funny forms of racism are both on display in "Get Out," a well-made horror film that nicely balances its scares with comedy as well as social commentary that thankfully doesn't hammer home its point and thus overwhelm what the flick is intending to be -- a thinking person's horror flick. In that regard, writer/director Jordan Peele (best known as one half of the Comedy Central duo "Key & Peele," and making his big screen debut behind the camera here) delivers with aplomb and then some.
On its most basic level, it's a horror version of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" In that film that was groundbreaking for its time and subject matter, Katharine Houghton's character showed up at her parents' (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn playing those parts) house with her black boyfriend (Sidney Poitier) and both sides had to deal with the sticky situation of interracial relationships.
You'd think society would have come a long way in the intervening half century, but young photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) knows things aren't going to go smoothly upon meeting Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener), the parents of his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), for the first time. You know, what with them being white and him being black.
Rose tries to dismiss such "uh-oh" concerns by saying her dad would have voted for President Obama for a third time if possible, something the neurosurgeon repeats himself upon meeting the young man. When not bringing up that his grandfather lost to Jesse Owens in the '36 Olympic Games. Or addressing how odd it might appear that the family's maid, Georgina (Betty Gabriel), and groundskeeper, Walter (Marcus Henderson), are black, not bringing up how they sort of act like smiling, friendly slaves would have back in the day.
This time, however, there's added creepy menace to those forced smiles from the "black help" and another black man -- played by Keith Stanfield -- who behaves somewhat the same way when showing up on the arm of a much older white woman. None of that is lost on Chris or his black TSA agent friend (Lil Rel Howery) back home who warns him that white folks like to get black folks involved in "kinky (sex) sh*t."
The latter doesn't come to fruition, but other forms of nefariousness abound, something Chris must come to grips with as the streamlined pic plays out over its 103-some minute runtime. I won't give away the particulars here other than to say that Peele expertly ratchets up the suspense while precariously balancing just above the abyss known as cinematic absurdity, a chasm the flick easily could have plummeted into when one really thinks about the B-movie style evil plan that's in play.
I do wish that Peele had played more with the "what's real and what's imagined" view of racism and related terrors, particularly as connected to the hypnosis that Keener's character uses to rid Chris of his nicotine habit, explore a past familial tragedy and, ultimately, serve as something far worse. All of those are deployed, but it would have been fun to use such "is this real or related to hypnosis" doubts on both the protagonist and the audience that no doubt will be rooting for him to follow the film's titular suggestion.
Even so, what's present works well as I enjoyed the offering, laughed at the right moments, and actually found myself with sweaty palms as things came to a head toward the end. All involved create a nice balance of horror, comedy and social commentary, meaning you should get into the theater to see "Get Out." It rates as a 7 out of 10.
Reviewed February 21, 2017/ Posted February 24, 2017
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