Written by Kyle Hughes
“Get Out” is the strong debut for writer and director Jordan Peele. It combines social commentary, comedy and horror into a tight package, but it is an example of a good, solid movie that is just shy of being something great.
What if every joke and story about a black boyfriend meeting his white girlfriend’s family were true? This is a fun premise, but it could easily slip into clichés. However, Peele’s eye for nuanced, well-timed comedy serves him well here, just as it did in “Key and Peele.” When there are clichés, they are there to inform the characters, scenes and plot details to come rather than just being left out like cold supper.
One particular instance involves our main character Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) listening to his girlfriend’s father Dean (Bradley Whitford) talk about how he would have voted for Obama a third time if he could have. In a less well-made movie, the point of this would be left as. Isn’t it funny that this old white man is making our black lead uncomfortable by trying too hard to make him feel welcome? In “Get Out,” the real point of a moment like this is far more sinister.
All of the actors that surround Chris’ character do an excellent job at toeing the line between funny and creepy. Kaluuya as Chris is especially wonderful in the range and believability of his reactions to the others’ strangeness and insensitivity.
This is also where the few problems “Get Out” show up.
We don’t get to spend enough time with our characters before the main plot gets going. We only know the bare bones about Chris and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) as individuals and as a couple. Nor do we spend enough time wondering whether Chris is misjudging Rose’s family or if they actually have something terrible they’re hiding. Without this development early on, there are tone inconsistencies later in the film. Chris’ struggle in the third act doesn’t have the tension it needs, and the satisfaction in the final moments isn’t as visceral as it should be.
This could all be solved with a slightly longer running time.
In “Get Out,” we arrive quickly at Rose’s parents’ house. And not even two days have gone by before all of the secrets this family has to offer are revealed. We need one or two more days of small, subtle strangeness. This would allow for more quiet scenes where we could get to know Chris, Rose and her family better.
With more time, the movie wouldn’t feel so compressed and the tone would be more consistent. As it is now, our characters switch from comedy to horror very quickly. We don’t see enough of their dimensions early on to make these quick changes feel genuine. More time would also suspend our final judgments on these characters, allowing the tension to bubble for longer and making that ending all the more potent.
Overall, “Get Out” is a succinct, brutal piece of social commentary. It shows Peele’s passion for horror and his skill for finding truth through comedy. Despite its few flaws, it is a unique gem that is funny, dark and poignant.