Cinematic Releases: Stranger in a Strange Land: Get Out (2017) - Reviewed

I am mixed race (half black and half white) and I have experienced some interesting reactions over the years from the families of white guys I have dated. While most have been completely accepting there were a few...exceptions. Like the cousin that dropped the word "nigger" casually into a phone conversion we were having--he didn't know I was black because I "sound white" when I speak. Or the aunt at Thanksgiving dinner that didn't want to touch my hand when I offered it to her after meeting for the first time. "She's just like that don't worry about it." was whispered into my ear later on. This brings us to Jordan Peele's (one half of the comedy duo Key and Peele) first horror film, Get Out.

In Get Out we follow an interracial couple as they go through the always nerve-wracking ordeal of meeting the parents. Rose (Allison Williams) is a progressive white woman dating a black photographer named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and they have only been together a short amount of time. Once Chris and Rose get to her parent's estate, mysterious and unsettling situations start to develop. The way the film is set up and plays out is very Hitchcockian and the tension mounts slowly over the course of the film. Peele wrote this movie as well, and you can feel his signature humor all over the dialogue and in the way the characters interact with each other. I really dug Michael Abels' score for this film--it's a mixture of contemporary hip-hop, blues music, Swahili singing, and shades of Bernard Herrmann.

This film straddles the line between horror and comedy perfectly and one aspect never overshadows the other. The visual look to the movie is fantastic and it's elegantly shot--it reminds me of classic horror films. There are some surreal visuals interspersed throughout and they are ingenious in how they tie in to the overall plot. Daniel is great as the jittery and paranoid Chris and he has some of the best kinetic physical acting I have ever seen. I especially loved comedian Lil Rey Howery as Chris' friend Ron--he is damn hilarious in this movie and a welcome palate cleanser between all the horror.

Jordan Peele is not one to shy away from racial commentary and Get Out is stuffed to the brim with it. There is a lot of dark humor and satire especially towards casual racism that can sometimes come from well-meaning white folks. I can see this being taken the wrong way by some viewers, but it's all presented with tongue planted firmly in cheek. That is not to say that there isn't a real message here, it's just not completely accusatory and serious business. There is a lot to unpack from this movie: gentrification, fetishization of black culture, prejudice, and racial stereotypes. I can't say I have seen a horror film tackle these concepts in such a deliberate way without coming off heavy-handed.

Peele has knocked it out of the park on his directorial debut but I wasn't too surprised because of his outstanding prior work on Key and Peele. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

--Michelle Kisner