With nominees for this year’s Academy Awards being announced last week, we will be reviewing some of the nominated films as a countdown to the actual awards which will be held March 8.
The first film of the countdown is “Get Out” which was nominated for best picture, best director, best actor and best original screenplay.
The film itself had the interest of many even before it hit theaters because the director and writer of the horror-thriller film was Jordan Peele, who is best known as a sketch comedian with his show “Key and Peele.”
Making the jump from comedy to any other serious genre is never an easy one and rarely one that is done well. Peele not only succeeds in making this jump but does so in a way that brings about an allegorical masterpiece about race that doesn’t challenge traditional racism but rather the everyday racism experienced by African-Americans all over the country.
This not only holds a mirror to those who consider themselves progressives and not racist and who are so unintentionally. There are also allusions to the U.S. criminal system showing Peele’s ability to touch on multiple controversial issues in today’s society without ever making the film feel too full or in-your-face.
While it’s not a traditional horror movie that will make you jump out of your seat scared or heading your head under a pillow in sheer terror, the general creepiness and foreboding sense that lasts throughout the movie does the genre more than enough justice.
The plot focuses on a young African-American man named Chris who goes out to meet his white girlfriend’s family in the countryside. Again, rather than your typical “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” plot of an unreceptive family to Chris, they welcome him with open arms. Even as they make intense efforts to prove how okay with it they are, the more they stand out as blissfully unaware of their well-meaning yet ignorant attempts.
However, as he spends more time with them, it becomes clear that something is off as every African-American Chris meets around the estate act strangely and it eventually leads up to a truly disturbing revelation that is without a doubt one of the best twists in 2017.
Peele’s comedic chops also makes its way into the movie that gives you the type of refreshing laugh needed to get through a movie that arguably takes too long to reach its final twist.
Daniel Kaluuya who portrays Chris and also is the one up for best actor, is one of the main reasons Peele’s exploration of the complexity and sensitivity to racism works so well. His subtle reactions to statements like, “Do you play golf? I know Tiger Woods!” makes the audience realize that not only is this type of thing common but is so that Chris doesn’t even find the value in correcting it. As the situation becomes more and more clear to him, the increased terror which he portrays so brilliantly creates a dynamic character that the audience is actively rooting for to survive. Not an easy task in horror movies and oftentimes one horror writers won’t even bother to attempt.
Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener play the girlfriend’s parents and without giving any plot points away, their full range of actors are put on display throughout the film to create a classic upper-class happy-go-lucky white parents picture with a lot going on behind the scenes.
The rest of the cast stands out as well and the film’s strong ensemble is what helps it the most. The girlfriend, Rose, played by Allison Williams, becomes an easily-likable character as she attempts to fix the subtle racism the couple witness throughout the movie. Her brother, played by Caleb Landry Jones, is one of the main sources of fear in the film and it’s because of his brilliantly calm yet threatening demeanor towards Chris.
The true brilliance of the entire project is the fact that a successful mashup of genres from comedy to horror while still being a brilliant piece of social commentary is not the type of talent expected from someone who made a skit about a substitute teacher who can’t pronounce names. Peele has proved his writing and directing abilities are something to be respected and the Academy seems to be doing just that.