Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
Directed by: Jordan Peele (debut)
Written by: Jordan Peele (“Keanu”)
Dark comedy, sharp social satire and mainstream horror elements merge into the strange and, at times, smartly-written film “Get Out,” the first feature directed by Jordan Peele of the sketch comedy TV series “Key and Peele.” Tonally satisfying and provocative, the hybrid genre movie might overstay its welcome and miss out on driving its critique on cultural appropriate all the way home, but Peele has taken the somewhat unique idea (“Being John Malkovich” did it better) and modified it into his own clever, anti-racism statement.
Things get a little uncomfortable for Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young, African American college student, when his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), brings him home to meet her family. While Rose believes race isn’t going to be an issue for her progressive parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford), the atmosphere surrounding the visit doesn’t sit well with Chris as soon as he gets there—from the unintentionally ignorant albeit inappropriate comments and questions that come his way to the bizarre interactions he has with the family’s black employees. Chris doesn’t know what’s up, but something is definitely not right. When Rose’s psychiatrist mother, Missy (Keener), decides to hypnotize Chris without his permission, supposedly to break him of his smoking habit, is when Chris’s short weekend trip with his girlfriend turns into a disturbing nightmare that he cannot awake from.
Borrowing themes from past films like the aforementioned “Malkovich,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “The Stepford Wives” (and possibly even director Johnathan Glazer’s trippy 2013 metaphysical drama “Under the Skin”), Peele’s exploration of current race relations in America and how casual racism has somehow become the norm, even among seemingly intelligent individuals, is the strongest reason to make your way to the theater for his promising directorial debut.
“Get Out” works much better as social commentary than it does when it regresses into mainstream horror in the third act, but by then Peele has audiences already hooked. If he had fleshed out some of the more complex ideas instead of actually cutting flesh, “Get Out” could’ve been something truly special.