Many of you who have read through this blog probably know my opinions on Blumhouse Productions by now. For those of you who don’t, I have a tumultuous, love-hate relationship with them. They single-handedly shot horror into mainstream culture about a decade ago with low budget, decent quality movies which is awesome, but they’ve been resting on their laurels since, and have begun pandering to the lowest common denominator because they’ve discovered the secret formula to print money (See: Paranormal Activity 5: The Ghost Dimension’s $10 million budget and nearly $80 million box office return).
They seem to be running on a business model of throwing as many low budget horror movies at the wall as possible and seeing which ones stick. Majority of them are kinda shitty movies that bounce off harmlessly, but every once in a while, a real gem will come through, and when it sticks, it sticks. I’m talking non-stop critical acclaim and 4700% returns on it’s budget here, people. This ain’t some Mickey Mouse shit here.
Get Out is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, and the fact that the surrealist funnyman (from sketch comedy duo Key & Peele) chose to direct a horror movie is an interesting one.
Get Out is a horror film about Chris and Rose (Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams) a young couple who have been going steady for a while. Rose invites Chris to spend a weekend at her rich parents’ (Dean is a neurosurgeon and Missy is a psychologist, played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener respectively) house, except there’s one hang up — Rose’s parents, the Armitages, don’t know that Chris is… black. Don’t worry, because Rose assures Chris that her parents might be super-white, but they’ll try their absolute hardest not to offend Chris, no matter how cringe-worthy they might get.
White people, am I right?
When Chris finally gets to spend a weekend with he Armitages and their super old, affluent white friends, he notices things are kind of off around the house. The two servants happen to be black, and seem to behave from incredibly off kilter to completely hostile. Some awkward phrases are exchanged between family members, their servants, and Chris and our protagonist slowly realizes that something much more sick and twisted is going on than casual, inadvertent racism.
White people, am I right?
This movie is made up of “oh, fuck” moments like The Bye Bye Man is made of “oh, fuck off” ones. The first thing I need to commend Get Out for is it’s absolutely phenomenal script. The film seemed a little slow near the beginning, but honestly, shaving maybe three to five minutes tops is all it needed. Other than that, information is doled out at a perfect pace. You’re constantly learning new information and piecing together the puzzle at the same time as the characters. You won’t ever feel ahead of the characters, but the movie doesn’t treat you like an idiot as you plod alongside it. Each of these “oh, fuck” moments plays on the build up and release of tension throughout the movie. And this is a masterclass in tension. Old school tension, formed on uncanny interactions and things slipping in and out of the shadows. People acting funny enough to be confusing but not funny enough to be concerned. We’re as uncomfortable as Chris is throughout his stay at the Armitage’s, watching everything with a skeptical and defensive gaze as it unfolds in front of us.
Get Out has some clever writing in it as well. I won’t be getting in to spoilers, as I saw this movie without any previous knowledge (I hadn’t even seen the trailer before watching it), and I think that knowing as little as possible is the best way to let Get Out take you on its wild ride. My friends who saw it with me and I were speculating on why certain things happened well after we had seen the movie, piecing together seemingly unrelated events and bits of dialogue, further deepening our appreciated for the attention to detail that went into writing the script.
While Jordan Peele surprised the world with how twisted of a story he came up with, he still flexes his comedy chops throughout Get Out. Some of the more intense scenes are punctuated with small jabs and one-liners that are funny, but don’t really lighten the mood, leaving the audience chuckling uncomfortably at something so dark that it shouldn’t be met with laughter. It’s a kind of dark comedy we don’t see too much anymore. Not all the comedy hits though, with one character being the dedicated comedic relief unable to conjure up consistent laughs when he’s on screen. That’s a damn shame in my book, because as the film goes on, he’s given more and more screen time, and is allowed to fire off in long monologues that come across as humor aimed at stoned teenagers rather than a modern horror audience. I understand they can’t all be zingers, but sometimes Get Out feels like it comes to a screeching halt just to crack a sex joke. Not really my jam.
So, does Get Out really deserve its incredible 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes? I don’t think so. I can understand why it has held such a high score since its release (I believe it started and stayed with a 100% for a while), it’s a horror movie made for the modern North American climate, which is after all the application of one of the strengths of horror. Genre fare is typically more readily available to port in social commentary in a smooth fashion, but ultimately, making a good movie that stands out among its peers does not a 99% make. While I was totally in love with it while I was watching it, afterwards, it slowly fell from grace in my mind.
I’m writing this a couple weeks after watching Get Out in my local independent theater (support your local independent theater, if you don’t already!), partially because while I really liked the movie, it didn’t pop out at me in a way that made me want to sit down and crank out several hundred words on it. I believe however, that this is a film that deserves and will benefit from several watches. The first time through you’ll have a tough time predicting where each scene will take you and I’m convinced that there’s a ton of information available from the film beneath the surface, that will bubble up to the surface once you have the context of a previous viewing.
Once all is said and done, Get Out is probably one of the best films released this year so far, especially among Hollywood’s fare. There are still a handful of movies that I’m beyond hyped for that have yet to come out before 2018, but I have no doubt that Get Out will still sit in many people’s top five or top ten lists once December rolls around. It’s a smart, well written and carefully pieced together horror flick that stands alone as its own beast. You can easily find a ton of media that influenced Get Out, and in five years, I have no doubt that you will find a ton of media that Get Out influenced.
Movie Pairing: The Invitation. By the end of the night, the list of people you can trust will dwindle down to a number smaller than you thought possible.
Drink Pairing: Irish Coffee. Let the alcohol lull you in to a false sense of security before the caffeine kicks in and leaves you jittery and paranoid.