Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) has been dating Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) for about five months and it’s about time to meet the rents. One problem: Rose hasn’t told her parents that Chris is black. Rose doesn’t see this as a problem, but Chris is a savvy guy and feels that her parents should at least have a heads up. The two head up to the Armitages’ affluent neighborhood and Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) don’t bat an eyelash at the fact that Chris is black, which he finds odd. He also finds it odd that the Armitages’ black groundskeeper, Walter (Marcus Henderson), and black housekeeper, Georgina (Betty Gabriel), are giving off a real Stepford Wives vibe. Chris confides in his friend back home, Rod (LilRey Howery), who consistently tells Chris to get the hell out of the neighborhood. Is Chris just being paranoid or is there something far more sinister going on?
Get Out is a stellar feature directorial debut for Peele with a fantastic cast and while the film definitely has a lot of great laughs, it is primarily a thriller/horror film, which is an unexpected choice for him. The film is less scary and more extremely creepy. The first two-thirds of the film also feature a powerful social critique about how even though slavery is technically over, it still exists in other forms. However, I felt that the commentary was hurt by the final twist in the film, which turned the film from a compelling psychological thriller to horror movie schlock. Prior to that, though, there are some really nice twists and I found the whole thing to be extremely entertaining. Definitely check it out – as of right now, it’s probably the best movie so far this year.
I can’t really delve into what didn’t work for me without getting into spoilers, so here is your SPOILER WARNING.
Still here? Okay, so if you’ve seen the trailers, you know that Missy is a psychiatrist and hypnotist and she uses this ability to control those she hypnotizes. The premise that the movie floats throughout most of the film is that the black characters, except for Chris, have been hypnotized or their personalities suppressed and therefore, enslaved. It’s creepy and sickening. However, Chris is told late in the game by Stephen Root’s Jim Hudson that what has really happened is that Dean, who is a neural surgeon, is basically putting the brains of the ailing white residents into the healthy black bodies and the white folks live on while the original owners of the bodies are left with only a sliver of their former selves. That sliver can be triggered at times, but it’s clear that these are now completely different people and the original people are effectively dead. Now, that is still sickening and creepy, but it also snapped my suspension of disbelief in two. I found the story much more effective when I thought that these people were being controlled somehow, but there still existed the hope that they might be freed. Also, when Hudson tells Chris all this, he admits that he doesn’t know why the Armitages always use black people and that he doesn’t care one way or the other. The fact that the Armitages could use any young healthy body to preserve their friends doesn’t diminish the heinous nature of their crimes, but it does hurt the social commentary angle a bit when the hosts could be anyone. All it means is that the Armitage family is a bunch of racist assholes, but that’s not nearly as compelling as the road the film had been travelling down until this final twist. It doesn’t ruin what is a fun, but thoughtful film, but it definitely brought it down a notch for me. Also, the ending is not as hopeful as some may think, because Chris will more than likely go to jail despite the fact that he was fighting for his life. Why? There are a ton of witnesses in the community and he burns down the house with all the evidence that could free him. However, that may have been Peele’s point too. The real crime will end up being ignored as long as society can put another black man in jail. If that’s what he was going for, it’s a sad ending indeed.