Sunday, February 26, 2017

Movie Review: GET OUT

Get Out is the directorial debut of acclaimed comedian Jordan Peele. This is a horror/thriller about a mixed race couple going to meet the girl’s white family out in the country where mysterious disturbing things seem to be afoot. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Macus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, and LilRel Howery. I thought this was a solid first outing and a generally decent thriller with some interesting concepts at play.

What I think Get Out does really well is smartly establishing a story that is extremely internally consistent and slowly builds real tension throughout the film. Peele deserves a lot of credit for his directorial work on this project and shows tremendous promise in terms of his technical horror filmmaking which was almost totally on point. Everything in the film builds to something else and when it takes a few twists you understand where those came from and appreciate them all for what they are.

I also thought the film succeeded on the backs of stellar performances. Kaluuya is really solid throughout the movie and has to carry almost all the weight of the feature. Betty Gabriel and Allison Williams both gave incredibly striking performances that captivated me through the end of the film. Whitford and Keener, similarly deliver performances that are so unique and nefarious that you can’t help but wonder about them. Finally, LilRel Howery plays a character dealing with primarily comedic relief throughout the film and does so brilliantly. He had me rolling in laughter in all the right ways and managed to loosen the film just enough that it never became overwhelming but also never released earned tension from the primary storyline.

The last positive I want to discuss is how I think this is an effective pastiche of classic horror films. Peele has said (and clearly based on what was on screen) that he took influences from many famous horror films which was eminently apparent throughout. The ability to smartly determine which horror films and horror elements work best together to depict his story was impressively well done and the films ability to recall memories and nostalgia for those things positively impacted me as a viewer.

Unlike many reviewers, and many of my personal friends for that matter, I think that Get Out is far from perfect. For starters, I found the film to be pretty basic and self-explanatory in where it was going and how it was going to get there. Sure, it took some twists that I couldn’t have pointed to at the outset, but the general principal elements were all expected to a tee in my mind. Further, I thought that the way the film concludes was a bit underwhelming. Peele manages to keep your attention throughout the finish and played audiences like his instrument with something at the very end of the film but outside of those elements the ending was a bit over-the-top especially in comparison to the slowly mounting tension being assembled up to that point. If you compared this to another recent slow building horror/thriller The Invitation you can see the difference where that film releases its tension in fits and spurts whereas Get Out is one continuous swipe making it feel less effective. Finally, I thought the score was a little overbearing and didn’t work for me on the whole.

The last thing that really merits discussion in a review of this film is its message. Normally I don’t get into this (especially in genre filmmaking) because we tend to read too far into things distorting what is there and growing an improper impression. Here, the filmmakers and actors have conscientiously been bringing up the films message in every junket interview and almost every exceedingly positive review has cited the message as intelligent and one that merits discussion, so I would feel remised if I didn’t bring it up. After watching the movie, I didn’t find an intelligent message. In fact, I think I came up with a pretty negative message. It wasn’t until I listened to a couple interviews with Jordan Peele that I figured out exactly what he was trying to say. The reason why I missed it was because what his social message is is intuitively obvious. All the attempts I made at finding an intelligent message led to dead ends because I was looking too far into it. I think my experience in dealing with this film as social commentary exemplifies why film fans and critics should be more cautious in imputing messages about the world we live in onto films because we might totally miss the point the author is trying to make. I think this film works apart from its social satire and I don’t think that such satire enhanced the film in the slightest.

Overall I enjoyed Get Out and I thought it was an effective, tension filled thriller with solid performances. At times I found the film overly simple and the ending and the score failed to impress me. I think this is definitely a film worth checking out and is the second solid outing from Blumhouse this year after the success of Split in January.

Ryan’s Score: 7/10

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