MOVIE REVIEW: Get Out

(Image: floridafilmnetwork.com)

“GET OUT”-- 4 STARS

To come right to the point, “Get Out” is an 104-minute living embodiment of a slow-burning WTF moment that just keeps growing with every new detail.  And it’s glorious for being that very thing.  More psychological thriller than the spattered horror it’s being billed to be, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is subversively edgy and devilishly clever.  Pardon my language but “Get Out” joins “The One I Love,” “The Gift,” and “The Invitation” in recent years as an instant addition to the “mindfucksubgenre.

From the opening scene of a black man being subdued and shoved into the trunk of a car on a dark suburban street, “Get Out” challenges you to start tallying your “that ain’t right” moments.  Something is up.  Go ahead and raise your antennae.  This review won’t spoil a stitch of the mystery.  Know that it gets better.  

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya of “Sicario”) is a successful photographer dating a fetching young woman named Rose Armitage (“Girls” ensemble member Allison Williams).  They’ve been seeing each other seriously for five months and are embarking on a weekend trip out of the city for Chris to meet Rose’s parents for the first time.  Chris questions Rose if her folks know he is black, but Rose assures them him that his race won’t matter to the progressive liberals she comes from.

Arriving at an idyllic lakeside home, Dean and Missy Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) welcome their daughter and her beau with open arms.  He is a neurosurgeon and she is a psychiatrist.  The crowd is expanded when Rose’s younger brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones of “X-Men: First Class”) comes home as well and dozens of guest are slated to arrive the next day for a pre-planned annual gathering of family and friends.

Trying a little too hard to impress, Dean, Missy, and their party guests shower Chris with warped cordiality and narrow-minded compliments that begin to rub him the wrong way.  His eyebrow is raised further by the presence and odd behavior of the Armitages’ black housekeeper and groundskeeper.  Chris’s only sounding board outside of Rose are cell phone calls to his dog-sitting best friend back home, Rod (Chicago stand-up comedian Lil Rel Howery), a chatterbox airport TSA worker.  Once again, something is up.

Until a third act that necessitates essential violence, every cast member of “Get Out” sells their chess piece placement on the board.  Whitford makes smarmy disarming and Keener can hide through a smile with the best of them.  As the empowered lead, Kaluuya balances the right amount of “I got this” with the right amount of “nope.”  Last but not least in welcome comic relief, Howery makes off with the show as the guy with the best takes of what could be happening using the least information and having the most distance away from the situation.  You’ll want more of him every chance you get.

Question everything you see in “Get Out” and be ready for the rug to be pulled out from under you.  Examine the smiles, personal anecdotes, character asides, body language, and little bits of behavior that come out of each character.  There are quirks in every layer that turn into clues for piecing together just what may or may not be happening to the visiting Chris and the bigger picture.  

The totality of the scope, suspense, misdirection, and thrills of “Get Out” make it an outstanding original success and raucous big-screen experience.  This will be one of the smartest films you will see this year and it is an absolute pleasure to dive into Jordan Peele’s labyrinth.  The man hints at volumes of issues and topics, enough to fill a zillion editorials from every talking head opinion under the sun, and has funneled them into a sly piece of shock cinema.  

LESSON #1: GET TO KNOW YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER-- Everyone is entitled to a fresh start when it comes to a new relationship, but a person’s personal background and relationship history do still matter.  Being able to admit history or demonstrate learning from past mistakes with honesty is a big hump to earning future trust.  

LESSON #2: IF YOU HAVE A CLUE, ACT ON IT-- Connect the dots.  If something doesn’t seem right or look right, call it out, ask questions, or do something about it.  Sure, do it respectfully if you are the guest in the equation, but keep your eyes open.  The film’s title says it all.  Have an exit strategy to remove yourself from an uncomfortable or unhealthy situation.

LESSON #3: DON’T CONFORM TO WHO OR WHAT THE MAJORITY DEEMS YOU NEED TO BE-- To convey this last lesson without spoilers is incredibly difficult.  Let’s put it this way.  When someone or something starts to define what is the “right” thing to say or the “right” way to act, go back to Lesson #2.  Conforming to be respectful in certain circumstances is fine, but don’t betray your principles to do it.  Who are they to determine, interpret, or decide what is deemed acceptable or preferred?  Be yourself and not what society tells you you should be.  

  LOGO DESIGNED BY MEENTS ILLUSTRATED (#539)

LOGO DESIGNED BY MEENTS ILLUSTRATED (#539)