4 out of 5 stars
What is a horror/comedy? A film that is a literary and film genre that combines elements of comedy and horror fiction. It can be labelled as parody, spoof or ironically, in the case of Get Out, as a black comedy.
Every couple goes through different stages and there is no greater stress in a relationship than the introduction to the parents. For Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) the anxiety is compounded by the prospect of meeting the parents of his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), because they are unaware that he is African-American. His winsome, but naive girlfriend has been raised in what many would classify as the epitome of white upper-class America. To calm his nerves, Rose assures Chris that there is no need for concern and it all seems true upon their arrival to the Armitage homestead. He is welcomed with a warm reception by the family, but things quickly turn from welcoming to the unusual.
Even though Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) Armitage show their approval of the relationship between Chris and their daughter, there seems to be reservations and a dark side to the atmosphere of their beautiful home. Dean is a neurosurgeon and Missy is a psychotherapist who uses hypnosis as a means of helping her patients. After noticing Chris’ withdrawal twitches, she offers to assist him with his smoking habit. At first he is resistant, but then after unwittingly allowing her to hypnotise him, the young black man comes to the realisation of their intentions.
Who could have predicted that the combination of the horror powerhouse production company Blumhouse and first time director Jason Peele, who is best known for being one part of the comedy duo, Key and Peele, could deliver a potential horror/comedy classic? Even for those who are not fans of horror films have to appreciate the masterful storytelling of Get Out.
Peele has been able to take the premise and comedy found in classics like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and communicate the challenges of racism in America with a suspenseful twist. Even though it is labelled as a horror/comedy, it is really a brilliant suspense thriller that has comedic gems interwoven throughout. Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams provide the perfect combination of rebellious youth and presumed innocence with a hint of skeptical wisdom that makes their relationship realistic and accessible. Williams presents as the perfect girlfriend for this scenario and counters all of Kaluuya’s doubt as she prepares him for their weekend with her family. This is artfully countered by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener. They deliver the seasoned performances needed for the supportive, but mysterious heads of the family. These relationships provide the suspense and terror that is needed to carry things through to the conclusion. This combined with the comedic talent in writing and performance of Lil Rel Howery (The Carmichael Show) which delivers the heart and levity that is needed to lift this film beyond the standard suspense thriller and helps to redefine this genre.
Underneath the suspense and comedy, the commentary of the racial challenges experienced in America is worth further study. Peele is able to entwine the plight of African-Americans in modern times without being too heavy handed or distracting from the entertainment value. Rarely does a film provide a skilfully woven script that entertains and educates without it feeling like a life lesson. Get Out will satisfy fans of suspense and comedy while providing a message about race and life for all audiences to consider.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
- What is the value of family? (Genesis 2:24, Exodus 20:12, Psalm 22:6, John 15:12-17)
- What does the Bible have to say about racism? (John 7:24, James 2:9, 1 John 2:9)
- Does God care about overcoming obstacles in life? (Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 41:3, James 1:19-21)
- What does it mean to be human? (Genesis 1:27, 2:5-25)