Get Out – Jordan Peele’s debut is an instant horror classic

Martin Cusack

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GET OUT  Director : Jordan Peele (2017)

“I would have voted for Obama a third  time if i could”, purrs a patronising WASP suburbanite to the young black protagonist of Get Out, embodying a very particular type of privileged-white-liberal oiliness which first-time director Jordan Peele expertly skewers in this fiendishly clever genre exercise.

As timely and relevant a take on modern race relations in the US as you’re likely to see this year, what really sets Jordan Peele’s hugely impressive debut feature apart from others of its ilk is its setting. While many films have examined the extremes of racial intolerance in the context of explicit, Klan-hooded bigotry, Get Out avoids obvious targets and instead opts to expose the racism concealed by the platitudes of the suburban privileged classes of America’s blue states.

 

New York photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is invited into the leafy suburbs by his preppy girlfriend Rose Armitage (Girls’ Alison Williams) to meet her well-to-do parents, but almost immediately he senses that all is not well in his liberal hosts’ immaculately appointed household. A couple of unnerving encounters with the family’s two black “employees”/servants are enough to confirm his suspicion that something is seriously awry, and when he is hypnotised by Rose’s tea-slurping mother (a splendidly creepy Catherine Keener) he is forced to confront the macabre truth lurking behind the Armitage family’s picture-perfect exterior.

Meanwhile, the bumbling detective work of Chris’ tenacious friend Rod (the brilliant Lil Rel Howery) betrays Peele’s background in comedy, and his comic scenes are juggled skilfully with Chris’ increasingly nightmarish ordeal.  Peele also shows a great facility for pacing, deploying the requisite jumpy horror movie gambits with the flair of a master. He’s aided throughout by an excellent cast – Kaluuya is superb as the unfortunate Chris, and Keener and Bradley Whitford excel as Rose’s sinister parents.

Get Out serves up a scathing critique of white liberal society blighted by creeping, insidious racism, ingeniously wrapping its social commentary in the familiar exterior of an efficient horror thriller, and the prodigiously talented Jordan Peele and his cast deliver in spades on all fronts. A genre film of rare wit and insight, it’s also a unique opportunity to see a neurosurgeon getting impaled on the antlers of a stuffed deer’s head. Get Out is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner radically updated to fit our bizarre, troubling, Trumpocalyptic times.

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Martin Cusack