February 23, 2017

GENRE | Post-Racial Horror – Jordan Peele Screams 'Get Out'

"Black is in fashion."

Key & Peele co-creator/star Jordan Peele brings his immense talent for deconstructing race and social situations to the horror genre by superbly commenting on interracial relations in the vein of The Stepford Wives by way of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Get Out, his directorial debut, is much funnier than it is frightening as most of its horror elements derive from a socially relevant script playing on genre expectations and commenting on our flawed liberal ideals about race and class.

Peele has wisely teamed up with Blumhouse horror producer Jason Blum, the force behind a string of successful low-budget genre films, for some truly remarkable results. The creative freedom and intimate setting has led to a socially aware thriller and comically layered commentary about the discomfort and awkwardness of navigating casual racism in liberal white America as a black man. Peele never quite approaches the levels of social satire as he smartly keeps the threats of menace very real and maintains the plentiful racial humour sharply implicit as we usually see it in everyday life.

Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris, a young black man and photographer, alongside girlfriend Rose, an energetic Allison Williams, your typical upperclass young white woman. They are on their way to meet her parents for the weekend, the hypnotic Catherine Keener and suspiciously friendly Bradley Whitford, who appear outwardly nice yet very off-putting. Rose's family seems to revel in enjoying black culture without acknowledging any of the social cost.

Daniel Kaluuya Jordan Peele | Get Out

Kaluuya proves to be a fantastic lead and racialized figure against a lively Williams performing on multiple emotional levels and playing on our expectations of her apparent privileged background. We see Chris' slow discomfort around an increasingly white environment underlying other sinister elements including two truly creepy African-American servants inside the family home.

He clashes with Rose's overly aggressive brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) and another mysterious figure played by Lakeith Stanfield, the only other out of place young black man in the ultra white suburbs. However, it's comedian Lil Rel Howery as Chris' best friend and audience surrogate who really stands out as the hilarious sidekick back in the city who gets to deliver all the most obvious jokes about race.

Get Out is an impressive debut film from Peele using all his storytelling talent, not only economically, but ambitiously with a fearless cinematic sophistication. The balance of underlying situational comedy played straight through horror genre movie tropes is simultaneously laugh out loud funny and truly suspenseful. Foremost, it's a thrilling and entertaining twist on classic cinema using our post-racial ideals against us as it cleverly riffs on relevant themes of cultural fetishization, racial tension, equal rights, and enslavement to express the contemporary African-American experience.

More | YVArcade / AV ClubIndiewire / Slate

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