31 Days, 31 Movies 12/7: Get Out
I’ve had no interest in Get Out since it came out in February but it’s become pretty clear that whether I want to or not I’m going to be watching this movie when the Oscar nominations come out. And I couldn’t decide on what to watch tonight and Get Out was sitting there so here we are. I am very happy for Jordan Peele’s success; for a black man to have directed the highest grossing film of all-time with an original screenplay is incredible. For Peele to have turned $4.5 million into over $250 million is an unheard-of achievement. I’m a fan of Keith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya and they are both great in this. This movie’s success is easily one of the highlights of a great 2017 in cinema. I don’t think there is any chance that it wins the Best Picture Oscar this year even though it’s almost certainly getting a nomination as much as I would also like that. But I would almost certainly never have watched this movie were it not for the impending Oscar nod, I am glad I did though all things considered. My feelings on it aside, Peele has a brilliant piece of filmmaking here.
Jordan Peele is acutely aware of what Get Out does well and leans in to all those elements. Peele has a deft eye for horror and suspense, he builds tension in the tight shot and lingering gaze of the lens. There are countless examples of his adoration for the genre throughout the film: in the scene between Chris and Georgina in the bedroom, in the scene in the living room as Chris shouts for the keys, and of course in the first hypnosis scene. Peele has a mastery of the camera and ability to evoke emotion that I would not have guessed at from his time on Key & Peele and with literally one directing credit on his IMDb page I imagine this was a surprise to many. Not only does he have a great directorial eye for suspense and drama and is quite clearly a student of film, Peele also knows well when best to cut the tension with comedy. It’s not just Peele who excels in this movie, Daniel Kaluuya is riveting. Up until recently Kaluuya has mostly worked in the UK and mostly in TV, most famously as Bing in the “Fifteen Million Merits” episode of Black Mirror, but in his first lead cinematic role he absolutely stole the show. Peele and Kaluuya are enough on their own to make this an excellent film.
Keith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, and Lil Ren give excellent performances and I even found that I enjoyed Bradley Whitford and Betty Gabriel more than I have in the past but the rest of the supporting cast ranges from forgettable to distractingly bad. The stream of white faces that filter through the movie are meant to play exaggerating caricatures of every old white person we’ve ever been introduced to but my biggest gripes have to be with Caleb Jones and Allison Williams who are often left dragging in scenes with Kaluuya. I’ve never liked Caleb Jones’ squirrely acting style I think it was put to its best use in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri but in Get Out his choices with his character come off less menacing and creepy and more manic and distracted. Allison Williams is as flat as always but to the film’s benefit aside from a scene or two no one is asked to do much besides Kaluuya and Lil Ren. As touched on before the suspense in Get Out is brilliantly crafted, I thought the first two acts of the films were artistic painstakingly crafted but the third act, the revenge act, is cathartic but has none of the artistry or reverence that the first two acts do. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of watching Chris brutally slaughter the Armitage family, but it is certainly a dip in quality from the first two acts—that is up until Rod says, “I told you.” I do think that Peele’s original intended ending of Chris getting arrested for the murders and for the audience to discover that he is still brainwashed in jail probably fits the film better but I can understand his reluctance to have such a dark ending considering the climate in which the film came out.
Get Out is a smart satirical suspense film that does social commentary well and does a good job of bucking the trends of black people in horror films—as Jordan Peele set out to do. It is worth pointing out though that Rod is absolutely correct though, none of this shit should’ve happened. Everyone knows only meet the parents of your white girlfriend for the first time on neutral ground, for sure never go to the country—not voluntarily that’s for sure, double tapping is some 2009 shit—you have to triple tap in 2017, if any white person ever tells you unprompted that they would have voted for Obama a third time be in a different zip code, always keep your flash off by default—I’ve learned that the hard way, but most importantly never ever trust anyone that isn’t fam or your AAU coach.
Get Out outshines some poor supporting performances and a third act that feels more like a necessity than a continuation of the brilliance in the first hour of the film on the back of its brilliant director and leading man. Get Out is a movie that begs for you to watch it over and over again to pick up on all the subtleties and Easter eggs that Peele painstakingly wove into the film. A personal favorite of mine was how Chris is saved by picking cotton out of the chair arm. I may have not adored this movie like the masses have but I am rapt by Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya’s performance in Get Out and I will certainly be one of the first in line and their next films.