A horror movie with deeper sociological implications that are only partially realized, Jordan Peele’s Get Out to its credit strives for more of the psychological horror of The Shining or Rosemary’s Baby rather than the gross-out gore fests of most of today’s horror films.
The Production: 3/5
A horror movie with deeper sociological implications that are only partially realized, Jordan Peele’s Get Out to its credit strives for more of the psychological horror of The Shining or Rosemary’s Baby rather than the gross-out gore fests of most of today’s horror films. Excellent performances and the director and cast’s clever shielding of what’s really going on deliver a production that works despite some lapses in logic and physiology.
Excited to introduce her boy friend of five months to her parents, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) and Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) plan a long weekend at her parents’ country estate. Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford) Armitage welcome the young black photographer with open arms to their home though it has slipped Rose’s mind that this is the weekend of her parents’ garden party, an extensive gathering of liberal white friends who are nothing but eager to meet and gush over Chris. Apart from Rose’s rather aggressive brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), Chris meets with nothing but pleasantries and compliments from all around him, and that includes the Armitage’s somewhat robotic black servants Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Walter (Marcus Henderson). A strange encounter with the one other black guest Logan (Lakeith Stanfield) at the party unsettles Chris, and Missy’s over eagerness to hypnotize Chris to cure him of his cigarette addiction convinces him that perhaps he and Rose should end their weekend prematurely.
Writer-producer-director Jordan Peele borrows tropes from the aforementioned Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining as well as fashioning a kind of The Stepford Wives vibe about the narrative that’s quite effective in establishing a growing sense of dread as the film continues to run. Though there are some jump scares early on (the first will literally have you jumping out of your chair coming out of nowhere as it does), a second viewing of the film will reveal quite a few layers of meaning and subterfuge that one can’t be aware of the first time through. Director Peele composes some brilliant shots and sequences (the hypnotism sequence is evocatively conceived and delivered and a later operation scene spares us some of the overt gore by focusing the camera at the doctor’s glasses’ reflection rather than shoving the body parts and bodily fluids into our faces). There is narrative laziness unfortunately in allowing characters who have been battered to spring back to life as if they had nine lives just for the sake of some quick jolts, and the use of Chris’ jive-talking best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) to diffuse some of the tension and suspense with his nonsense wears out its welcome incredibly fast. The screenplay’s more serious concerns with racism and prejudice don’t really score the kinds of satirical jabs their creator is attempting to explore especially since the motivation for the antagonists’ actions seems rather thin.
As the object of everyone’s attention, Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris displays far more understanding and tolerance than one might expect in a similar situation (Chris obviously loves Rose very much to endure the kind of obeisance and scrutiny the weekend is providing). It’s not quite the powerhouse performance the role requires, but he gets by and certainly has the audience’s sympathy. Allison Williams does a masterful job as Rose, a performance more fascinating and layered on the second or third viewing once one knows all of the film’s many secrets. Bradley Whitford and especially Catherine Keener make their cheerfulness and support viable character traits that pay dividends in the later reels of the film. Caleb Landry Jones offers a scary take on the unhinged Jeremy, and Lil Rel Howery occupies the other end of the spectrum as the movie’s comic relief (his scene with the police as he tries to explain events that seem odd to him pushes absurdity to new heights). Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson bring creepiness in spades to the film as the enigmatic household servants.
3D Rating: NA
The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. It’s a nicely detailed transfer with excellent sharpness while color saturation levels are quite impressive (the opening sequence on a darkened suburban street is gorgeous to look at), and skin tones are lifelike and appealing. Contrast varies a bit in certain sequences, but black levels never suffer with infinite inky backgrounds especially obvious in the hypnotic sequences. The movie has been divided into 20 chapters.
The film’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix uses the hip-hop tunes and Michael Abels’ background score as the primary surround elements. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel. Split atmospheric effects seem a trifle more limited than one might expect in a thriller, but the film’s relatively low budget ($4.5 million) might have something to do with that.
Special Features: 3/5
Audio Commentary: writer-director Jordan Peele offers the psychological explanations for everything that’s going on in the movie along with effusive praise for all of the film’s participants.
Alternate Ending (3:39, HD): much less effective ending to the film with optional commentary from Jordan Peele available.
Deleted Scenes (23:02, HD): eleven scenes may be viewed individually or together and with or without director Jordan Peele’s commentary.
Unveiling the Horror of Get Out (8:23, HD): opinions on the film’s characters and themes are offered by writer- director Jordan Peele, producers Jason Blum and Sean McKittrick, and actors Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Lil Rel Howery, Marcus Henderson, and Betty Gabriel.
Q&A Discussion (5:28, HD): Chance the Rapper hosts a brief question and answer session with Jordan Peele, Allison Williams, Daniel Kaluuya, and Lil Rel Howery participating.
DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.
Get Out is an unusual psychological thriller with deeper sociological ramifications than merely wanting to scare the daylights out of the viewer. Each member of the audience will have his or her own opinions on how successful those underlying themes are, but there is no denying that the Blu-ray release offers very satisfying picture and sound for those interested.