Politics are often inescapable in the film world. Releasing a horror film that weighs heavily on the topics of race and politics as the final pieces of President Donald Trump’s administration (one that has often been criticized as racist) fall into place is clearly a wise move. Politics in horror is nothing new. It is seen in the communist underlining of Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” to the critique of urban living in “Candyman.” Social issues, especially those revolving around racial or gender issues, the well known “Stepford Wives” (both the 1972 original and 2004 remake) is another clear influence.
“Get Out” follows in these films footsteps, telling the story of a young black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who is invited to go with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to see her parents for the weekend. Once he arrives, things seem odd: her parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) are nice, but awkward. Their servants who are black seem robotic, and the rest of the town seems similarly off. The horror seeps in as Chris attempts to understand what is going on in this community and eventually escape.
Without giving too much away, obviously the film has prominent race issues at its core. What isn’t evident is that “Get Out” isn’t just a horror film, but a horror comedy. Most of the laughs come during conversations between Chris and his friend Rod, a TSA agent. Directed by Jordan Peele, one of the titular actors and writers of the Comedy Central show “Key & Peele” and last year’s excellent action comedy “Keanu,” the comedy comes at moments one wouldn’t expect. However, the humor never feels out of place or forced, as many horror comedies do. “Get Out” is unique amongst the best of genre mash-ups. Many great films like “Scream” or “Cabin in the Woods” build their comedy on the tropes present in horror films. “Get Out” doesn’t do this, instead it combines the two genres and manages to form something that feels real. This is hard to do with either horror and comedy separately, much less together.
“Get Out” is not just a great genre film, nor just a great film in general, it’s more than that. It is a timely film, a film that makes race relation commentary not only accurate and powerful, but fit neatly in the narrative itself. I truly have not seen a movie more current to its time about racial issues since Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” Jordan Peele, now two for two with feature films, has carved out his slot in the film world thanks to his powerful directing and eye for shots. “Get Out” is the first of 2017 films that will be compared to social issues, and it certainly will not be the last. I’d be shocked if we see anything close to how smart and accurate it is about the way black youths are treated by well meaning, liberal white families. “Get Out” manages to be funny, horrifying, upsetting, disturbing, timely and relevant all at once. What else can one ask for from a horror film?
Get Out: 5/5 cigars