By David Provost
Late February/early March isn’t a traditional time to release a horror movie. Then again, that would assume that Get Out is a traditional horror movie. The subject matter and themes the movie’s screenplay addresses are indeed steeped in “tradition,” but everything from the creative execution to the marketing goes against the grain of Hollywood scary movie norms. It’s a movie about interracial dating in a post-truth world that makes a larger statement about conventional storytelling tropes and Americans love horror movies. It strives to do things differently.
Get Out is the brain-child of Sketch comedian Jordan Peele, half of the hilarity in Comedy Central’s wildly successful show “Key and Peele.” This is Peele’s second film since his social satire series completed its fun and Get Out is receiving a level of praise from critics and audiences that not only exceeds Peele’s 2015 crime-comedy Keanu but also the very sketch-show that put him on a global map.
The surprising success of Get Out is more than its overwhelming financial success at the box-office. The film is low-budget but has grossed more than Underworld: Blood Wars, John Wick: Chapter Two, and The Great Wall. Get Out manages to achieve what so few scary movies do: It manages to be a great film. While not ever forgetting the movie is a comedy, Get Out has a remarkable amount of focus on small details in lighting, set decoration, and editing. The screenplay is stronger than steel, which gives it even more time to polish production processes that most horror and comedy movies could care less about. It’s the rare blockbuster that checks every box, a movie that looks great, sounds great, and has something great to say.
Get Out is scary and unsettling without ever needing gore effects or phantom-fueled jump scares, largely in part due to the caliber of acting on the screen. Daniel Kaluuya leads the way as Chris, a confident and intelligent protagonist who flawlessly balances strength with vulnerability. Allison Williams is perfectly cast as his white girlfriend, exhibiting an array of tense emotions we never saw in her character on HBO’s Girls.
The true horror of the film is in its sharp social commentary about continuing racial tensions. One of the movie’s most frightening scenes takes place during a family reunion party. Chris is the only young black man in attendance, and various tertiary characters socially accost him in a manner that is softly threatening, but perfectly acceptable by both characters on screen and in our own real-world society.
Five out of Five Stars (Now Playing, Nationwide. Rated R.)