A darkly original satire

by Martin McNamara
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DIRECTOR Jordan Peele’s first foray into feature filmmaking is a horror movie with purpose; one that wears its genre-movie influences on its sleeve for all to see, but inflects everything with biting social and political commentary.

Get Out’s (Cert 15A, 103 mins) subtext is anything but submerged, and is far more disturbing than any of the horror archetypes that Peele adapts.

The opening few minutes of Get Out immediately conjure up memories of John Carpenter’s Halloween and decades worth of its imitators.

A black man wanders through an affluent suburban neighbourhood in the middle of the night, before being knocked out and thrown in the boot of a car.

The tone is off-kilter, run through with humour, but the real-world connotation is deeply disturbing.

Months later, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) prepares for a weekend trip to his girlfriend’s family home, where he will meet her wealthy parents for the first time.

Rose (Allison Williams) insists that her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) will have no problem with Chris’s race; that her father, Dean “would have voted for Obama a third time if he could”.

Despite pleasant first impressions, Chris’s concerns prove to carry a little weight. As the weekend progresses, things get a very specific kind of weird – Rose’s family and their affluent friends exhibit a particularly strange, deviant fascination with her boyfriend’s ethnicity.

Get Out is satire first and horror second. The message is clear from the beginning: this is a scathing meditation on liberal racism in contemporary America and it is very, very funny – peppered with the offbeat humour of its director’s successful sketch show, Key and Peele.

Indeed, horror is really just the vehicle for Peele’s political message; a cinematic language in which the director is particularly well versed.

Despite the occasional jump scare, spot of gore or bone-chilling musical cue, Get Out is scariest when it reminds us of the real world outside the cinema doors.

Kaluuya does an admirable job as the sympathetic protagonist – although it takes perhaps a little too long for Chris to react to the very weird goings-on.

Caleb Landry Jones is great as his best friend – our only link to the outside world, and something to grasp onto when the film takes a surprisingly Hitchockian turn later on.

Bradley Whitford is brilliantly funny as the family’s oddball patriarch; a father eager to wear his cultural appropriation on his sleeve.

Peele has turned in an impressive, thought-provoking and wildly original debut. Get Out exists to incite open dialogue as much as to inspire laughter or screams.

Horror fans will delight in the abundant winks at genre favourites – there’s plenty of Cronenberg and Carpenter nods on show for the discerning viewer.

At the same time, however, Get Out is unlike anything that’s come before it – a genre pastiche that transcends such a meagre description in both form and content, melding both together for a truly unique, wickedly entertaining cinematic experience.

Get Out should leave a well-deserved legacy as a contemporary horror classic.


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