Key and Peele and Horror
I had the pleasure of seeing Jordan Peele talk in October 2016 at my university. He went on describing his coming of being a comedian and where he wanted to go next with his career now that his super successful comedy sketch show, Key and Peele, had ended. He explained how he was very intrigued with the horror genre and wanted to start making horror movies. When I heard this, I thought that Jordan Peele was going to struggle to make that switch from comedy to horror and that it would take a few films for him to make at least a somewhat decent horror film. I could not have been more wrong in my entire life.
Get Out is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut that stars Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams as Chris Washington and Roses Armitage, an interracial couple that travel to Rose’s white parent’s house for a weekend retreat. Chris is initially wary due to prejudices that may occur since he is black and when he arrives he becomes more uncomfortable at how the Armitages live their lives and they way they react to him. Chris goes along with it, but as tensions starts to rise he starts to think of something more sinister is going on.
The premise of the film plays a lot like one of the sketches from Key and Peele, and like the comedic sketches they are always clever and go one step further then they have to. When you read the premise it actually sounds like a sketch: a black man and white women are dating and they go to meet the parents only to experience awkward tensions. It has the comedic value of the sketch except this time it’s more dialed into the horror side of things making it all the more intriguing and intuitive to the viewer.
All of the performances are top notch, Kaluuya’s character is the charismatic likable protagonist that we are rooting for and are along for the ride through this trip. You feel the awkwardness he feels and the emotions he feels. Williams character plays the very privileged white girl that is supporting Chris through this trip with her parents. She plays it so effortlessly but also with a hint of naivety that will make you question her even after the credits roll. However the standout goes Lil Rel Howrey’s character Rod who acts as Chris’s connection to the world outside of the conflict. Howrey steals every scene he’s in and provides the comic relief with exceptional timing during points in the movie where it starts to get more tense.
Rose’s family members are absolutely not full blown out racists, in fact they make several points out to Chris and the audience to prove that they are accepting of him. They are not Klannists or White Supremacists, but rather people who are fascinated by black people’s appeal and show an appreciation for them. The family is able to portray those awkward racist commentaries that many people have heard or experienced effectively. Their comments are subtle and give the impression that these people don’t know they are being racists especially since they “would have voted for Obama a third time. Best president ever”.
Peele’s ability to blend comedy and horror is amazing! I have never laughed so hard in a horror movie. The jokes come at just the right the time and bring a sense of relief when all of the buildup and tension arises. This may very well be the best comedy of the year so far.
Jordan Peele’s attempt with this film is to be a social satire of the intricacies that come with an interracial couple but it is also so much more than that. Peele explores the uncomfortableness of being the only black person in the room along with all the stereotypes that come with it. Whether it be racial profiling by a cop or someone commenting on Chris’s athletic ability, Peele brings attention to these small microaggressions that black people face and smartly puts a horror twist on them.
It’s a lot of what isn’t really said in this movie that works so effectively. Upon second and third viewings, you pick up on the various allusions to modern real life issues that Peele has so cleverly placed. Whether it’s a small piece of dialogue or how someone is eating their food, Peele has expertly placed these subtle bread crumbs and hints to not only to build to the film’s climax but to provide commentary on the real social issues of racism.
You could find flaws in this movie. You could say the parent’s acting is not always up to par, but they are effective at doing what they need to. You could say that some scenes really don’t make sense with the context of the movie, but watch it again and see if you still feel the same way. You could say the third act requires some disbelief, but these are all not the point. My point is, the flaws in this movie are more nitpicks than anything that actually detracts from this exhilarating and engaging experience. Peele has made a film that is practically flawless and never makes you question any of the decisions he has made.
Get Out is a master class in film-making. It smartly blends humor and horror tropes to bring the audience in on real social issues. The performances are phenomenal and bring you into this conflict and allow you to feel the awkwardness and scary side that black people face. This is a film with something to say, and it gets that message across beautifully. None of the small things in this movie could possibly detract from this experience. Peele’s directorial debut proves that he is more than capable of telling an effective story and making a movie and I can not wait to see what more films he will make.