“Get Out,” Jordan Peele’s new horror movie, follows Chris, as his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) takes him to meet her parents for the first time. Rose’s parents, particularly Dean (Bradley Whitford), are constantly trying to relate to Chris and show that they’re not racist. “I would have voted for Obama a third time, if I could have,” are the first words that Dean directs towards Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), as if asking for a reward for being willing to put a black man in the White House.
Chris is originally worried because Rose hasn’t told her parents that she’s dating a black man, but her parents seem almost a little too excited to meet him. The reunion seems perfect at first; they’re in a palatial house in upstate New York, where everyone is sweet and actively trying to make Chris comfortable. But there are cracks beneath the surface. Chris slowly discovers these as he finds out that he is in legitimate danger and must escape from the Armitages’ clutches before it’s too late.
Daniel Kaluuya is brilliant as Chris, as he switches from quiet discomfort to genuine terror at the drop of a hat. Allison Williams (possibly the WASP-iest woman in existence) adeptly plays Rose, who has to be both a source of comfort, and later fear, for Chris. Whitford seems to be having the time of his life playing Rose’s father Dean, who is actively trying to accept Chris as a member of the family, but commits microaggression after microaggression instead.
But the real standouts in the film are the supporting cast. Lil Rel Howery, who plays Chris’s best friend Rod, brings some much needed comic relief to the film, and acts as a stand-in for the audience member who knows exactly what’s going to happen next. Howery constantly delivers great one-liners, while trying to save Chris (he thinks that the Armitages are running a sex cult full of hypnotized Black men).
Betty Grabie, as Georgina, the Armitage’s maid, takes full control of one of the best–and scariest– scenes in the movie. Chris tells Georgina that he feels uncomfortable in mostly white crowds, as Georgina shakes her head, slowly starts smiling maniacally, and repeats, “no,” robotically as tears well in her eyes. Georgina’s reaction is not just heartbreaking and unexpected, it serves as the first manifestation that the Armitages are not what they seem.
First time director, Jordan Peele (mostly known for his work in “Key and Peele,”) masterfully blends horror and comedy in a way that builds suspense and critiques “post-racial” America. We see Chris have strange encounters with the Armitages and their friends as the piercing soundtrack drones on. Michael Abels’s soundtrack, full of high pitched whistles, pulsing drums, and occasional sirens, makes us feel that something is terribly wrong. But Peele counters this with a second of comic relief, to have you wonder if Chris’s discomfort and fear are really just in his head.
Peele freely borrows from 60s and 70s suburban horror films (especially “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Stepford Wives,” with a little bit of “Night of the Living Dead” thrown in) to create a sucker punch finale. The film isn’t particularly gory, but the pacing, use of shadow and feeling of being trapped in the house, create true physical fear (I was shaking during the last 20 minutes). “Get Out” is nearly flawless, but could have further explained the Armitages’ motives, to make it the perfect horror movie.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5