‘Get Out’ review: Racism Chills

Life is a Cinema Hall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5) (This rating is only a snapshot. The details are in the words.)

Take a heapful of globalism. Add dollops of social media. Mix societal angst and economic divide. Top with disabused notion of inclusivity. And what you get is the perfect recipe for what’s becoming a world-wide phenomenon across countries. Extreme views on nationalism, diversity stoked by politicians who’re raking up insecurities to ensure that that divisive rake is perennially powered by the static of fear.

In this scenario when the Charlottesville protest last year was marked by the entry of the Ku Klux Klan and the pernicious power of gentrification raised its bulbous head that was always hiding in plain sight, Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele and released in the early break of 2017, seems prophetic in hindsight. As cinema, it’s skewering entertainment, carrying laughs, terror, and horror, all glistening with the coat of racism and ghettoism.

Caleb Landry Jones, Daniel Kaluuya, and Allison Williams have some tense dinner moments.
Caleb Landry Jones, Daniel Kaluuya, and Allison Williams have some tense dinner moments.

It’s also timely, inventive, wildly original, even as it adds layers of unmitigated suspense and a dark twist to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. But the movie’s opening lays to rest any questions about its intentions,  that it doesn’t intend on traipsing down a path of gentle familial breaking-the-bread-drama laced with smart lines. Post that shock, you meet Afro-American photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) who’s feeling rather antsy about meeting his girlfriend, Rose Armitage’s (Allison Williams) family over the weekend. And while their skin colors haven’t produced anything but mutual love and caring, Washington’s not too sure about Rose’s family’s reaction to him. Especially because she hasn’t told them about his color or lineage.

Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson are the kind of help that make you cry out for help.
Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson are the kind of help that make you cry out for help.

They make the trip to the countryside home, have a minor run-in with a cop  on the way— and Rose’s defense of Chris is heartwarming and so critical to what happens later. Chris meets the parents – neurosurgeon Dean (Bradley Whitford) and hypnotherapist mom Missy (Catherine Keener), both dignified and soft-spoken, who seem to go out of their way to assuage Chris’s worries but lace their behavior with undercurrents; while Rose’s brother, the drunk and leery-eyed Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is more direct and lacerative. There’s also a dark cloud of portent as he sees the house staff — groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) and housekeeper Georgine (Betty Gabriel), and there’s something there he or you can’t put your finger on – and there’s plenty of chills running sprints down your spine the first night when Chris steps out for a smoke.

Get Out then moves into the epiphanic weekend party scene where guests descend upon the house and director Peele, who also wrote the story, makes you fidget uncomfortably even as slowly, the shadow that he cast in the opening now envelopes you in its grip of umbra-darkness. There’s something amiss, and Chris’s friend from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery), is suspicious when he hears about the weekend shenanigans on the phone and urges him to scoot immediately. Which, of course, he doesn’t. Which of course, turns out to be an unwise move.

Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener stir things up.
Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener stir things up.

Director Peele helms this triumph with the unerring skill of an auteur, never relenting on the sheer white-sheet of terror that cuts through the scenes with scalding effectiveness. He orchestrates the tension in rising movements and when the climactic crescendo explodes onscreen, you’re all but gasping for relief. Composer Michael Abels keeps up the anxiety with his masterful score that employs the harp, the cell, and the strings in a haunting play of orchestration. And when his chorals come up, you freeze in delicious fear.

78 of 121 Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Allison Williams, Daniel Kaluuya, and Betty Gabriel pour out some suspenseful moments.
Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Allison Williams, Daniel Kaluuya, and Betty Gabriel pour out some suspenseful moments.

Enabling this superb miss-a-heartbeat effort is the equally superb cast. Daniel Kaluuya, in an Oscar-nominated performance, is nimble and brave, trapezing between his impeccable timing to an intensely calibrated act to play out the singeing past that looms upon his present – especially in a scene, when without warning, a burning rivulet of tears flows down one eye. Allison Williams is brilliant, not letting you drop her out of her sight for a moment, and making you hinge all your hopes on her. Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, and Caleb Landry Jones polish their acts with an unbridled stream of hypocrisy and horrific attitudes, one that holds a mirror to life today.

And that’s Get Out‘s biggest triumph. It may parade as an entertaining charade, but at its core are issues that are waiting to get out in the open and be acknowledged. It’s a stab at the gloss that all of us apply to our lip-service of problems and carry on with our lives. It’s a cry for all of us to get out of the dark, man-made chasm for race, gender, religion, and sexual preferences that’s entrenched deep within us, even if subconsciously. That exhortation will chill you to the bone when you hear it onscreen, but the question that lingers on after the movie ends is scarier: will we ever? Get out?

Life is a Cinema Hall ratings chart
1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5): Don’t bother
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5): Not too great
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5): Worth a watch
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5): Very good
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5): Drop everything else NOW

Get Out (2017) on IMDb

Movie data powered by IMDb

Get Out  is rated R (Restricted to adults) There’s violence, bloody images, and don’t-mind-their language.

Get Out
 Jordan Peele Running Time 1h 44 min
Writer Jordan Peele
Stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener
Genres  Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Watch the trailer of Get Out  here: