Review: Get Out

It’s quite a leap from MadTV to crafting a horror film – but Jordan Peele has had a bloody good crack at it. You may recognise Peele from being the latter of comedy duo Key & Peele. Get Out is Peele’s directorial debut and on a miniscule budget of only $4.5 million, the first time writer/director definitely provides bang for his buck!

Get Out follows black photographer Chris Washington visiting his girlfriend’s family in a remote estate in the country. Chris grows apprehensive when he finds out they don’t know he is black, but all seems to go well enough. But the strange activities of the servants and visiting neighbours may be just enough to justify Chris’ suspicions that something strange is going on.

First and foremost, the performances are incredibly good. Daniel Kaluuya evokes a real sense of believability in his role as Chris – often having a lingering apprehension about him, masked by an increasingly fragile coolness. The Armitage family work well as an onscreen ensemble with Bradley Whitford and Caleb Landry – as father Dean and brother Jeremy respectively – stealing the show.

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out.

Jordan Peele’s direction is understated. It’s not exactly lacklustre, but is designed to clearly convey the story and savours any creative flourishes for dream sequences and hypnosis scenes (you’ll understand once you watch the film). Simply put, for a debut feature Peel’s direction is well done and we will hopefully see more vibrancy and complexity in future work.

Interestingly, some of the nightmarish shots in the trailer and even a sequence featuring a suit of armour – seen in the poster and even briefly reference in the film – are omitted from the final product. Perhaps we will be seeing a director’s cut or deleted scenes on a DVD release down the line.

Peele’s writing is where his real talent lies. The script is tight, focused and devoid of the cringe-worthy or redundant dialogue that litter lesser horror flicks. The racial themes are explored with subtlety and become more thought-provoking than preachy. There was also a risk that too much comedy – the genre for which Peele is (currently) best known – may spill over is quashed as the humour takes a back seat to the horror.

A soundtrack can certainly enhance the tone and mood of a film. This is especially true where horror is concerned. Michael Abels employs a mix of what Peele cited as “distinctly black voices and black musical references”. This lends the film a unique sound. Other parts of the score hark back to more classic horror score – with violin vibes amping up the tension onscreen.

Get Out is rich in relevant themes which are made ever more accessible through the medium of a comedy horror. Considering its small budget and being a directorial debut, Get Out is successful in standing out in the sometimes invariable cinematic landscape of horror.

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