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Get Out Is a Funny and Brilliantly Subversive Horror Film
< 1 day ago
The opening scene of Get Out is a familiar horror-movie image—a stranger walking an unfamiliar street, in the dead of night, nervously looking over their shoulder at every rustle of sound. The setting is the suburbs, a frequent favorite of the slasher genre, only the victim is not a scantily clad teen girl, but an African American man, uneasily navigating what seems like hostile territory. A car pulls up alongside him, blasting the dirge-like old-fashioned ditty “Run Rabbit Run.” “Not today,” he mutters, turning around and walking in the opposite direction. But of course, his fate is already sealed.
Get Out was written and directed by Jordan Peele, one half of the legendary sketch-comedy duo behind Key & Peele. That show had a remarkable grasp on the visual hallmarks of the film genres it often mimicked, and its humor often lay in the preciseness of its parody. But Get Out is no mere pastiche. It’s an atmospheric, restrained, extremely effective work of horror with a clear point of view, a darkly hilarious movie that never trips over itself in search of a cheap laugh or scare. What might sound like a one-joke premise turns into something richly textured; what might seem like an easy metaphor is, in fact, anything but.
Like so many horror films, Get Out is exploring the creepy menace of the suburbs. Usually, similar slasher movies exist to puncture the false veneer of safety that comes with a white picket fence, but in Get Out, the threatening vibe is present from minute one. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is about to meet the parents of his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) for the first time and is nervous when he realizes she hasn’t told them that he’s black. After a long drive, their manse turns out to be exactly what you might imagine—giant, secluded, pristine, and filled with trinkets from trips around the world.
Rose’s father Dean (Bradley Whitford) is a little too eager to call Chris “my man,” her mother Missy (Catherine Keener) is icy and standoffish, and her brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is weirdly aggressive, but there’s nothing that unusual going on at first. Peele layers in a familiar awkwardness before slowly introducing elements of dread. The house’s maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and the groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson), both black, have strangely placid demeanors; Missy is a psychiatrist who keeps offering to hypnotize Chris (just to help him stop smoking, you understand); and, naturally, there’s a lock
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Date published: 2015-06-08