GET OUT is the debut directorial effort from Jordan Peele (better known as one half of the Kay & Peele comedy duo) and it is – so far – the best horror film of 2017, if not the best film of the year in general. It is a film that borrows heavily from a variety of influences and yet blends all of it's inspiration into a highly original and wildly entertaining chiller. Needless to say I have been swept off my feet and feel the need to slather on the praise.
It begins with a wonderful opening scene that flirts with the slasher influence and kick starts the film with the reassurance that horror fans are in good hands. With a whimsical credit sequence Peele lures the audience with his comical charm, and as the film begins we are taken to a strange and absurd place where nothing is what it seems.
The story follows Andre, an African American man who has dubiously agreed to visit his white girlfriend's white parents in their typically white rural community. His girlfriend, Rose, reassures him that they are not racist people and that he has nothing to worry about, and when they arrive at her parent's house Andre is warmly welcomed into their home. His concerns are triggered, however, when he discovers that the family hires “black help” around the property. A black groundskeeper and a black housemaid, who both share equally unusual demeanours, are the first signs that something isn't right, and before long Andre is in a situation he can't escape from. It is uncertain if Rose's family aren't quite what they seem, or whether it's the rest of the community that he needs to be afraid of.
Peele has described the film as The Stepford Wives meets Night of the Living Dead, and those two titles provide enough curiosity without giving away any of GET OUT's secrets. To reveal more would be to spoil the fun, and to list any more of the film's influences would be a low blow from one horror fan to another. What I can assure you is that this is a smart, brilliantly calculated and masterfully executed flick. Much like last year's remarkable chiller IT FOLLOWS, the film relishes in its minimalist approach and chooses atmosphere over gratuity. The environment that the characters inhabit is as much a player as the humans themselves and Peel's attention to the sound design compensates for whatever obvious tropes he's chosen to ignore. He dabbles with clichés and yet never relies on them, and with an ensemble of wonderfully quirky characters he treats the audience to a wickedly fun ride that is as hilarious as it is scary.
The film is lead by Daniel Kaluuya who previously co-starred as Emily Blunt's partner in SICARIO. He is an unusual actor with an understated screen-presence, and as proven by his appearance in BLACK MIRROR (that weird futuristic “Fifteen Million Merits” episode) he has the unique ability to tell his story through expression. This is a rare quality that few possess and he delivers the goods with ease. He his supported by the always-incredible Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford (who has never been better) and an assortment of talent such as Stephen Root, Caleb Landry Jones, Allison Williams and LilRel Howery. It is a consummate cast working from a consummate script.
Who would have thought that the year's most effective horror film would come from a comedy writer? It might be unexpected but it certainly isn't surprising. Comedy is highly disciplined art-form that relies on measurement. Peele's ability to make people laugh is his greatest asset and he has applied his creative-licks to horror with equal effect. If he can lure his audience into a false sense of security by making them laugh out loud (which he does) then he has given himself the perfect opportunity to scare the shit out of them too (which he does). He's a smart writer and GET OUT is a smart film!