Writer/comedian Jordan Peele, who makes up one half of US double act Key & Peele, usually aims for your funny bone. His directorial debut will have your bones rattling instead. To delve too deep into what makes Get Out such a dark delight would be to spoil its impact and devilish twists. The basic premise goes something like this: Twentysomething black man Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) has been dating white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) for several months and she’s bringing him home for the weekend to meet her parents. “Do they know I’m black?” he asks apprehensively, only to be reassured that it won’t be an issue. They drive out of the city into wealthy suburbia and Chris is welcomed with open arms by the über-liberal parents (played to perfection by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener). “I would have voted for Obama for a third term”, shares the ingratiating patriarch, while Rose’s hypnotherapist mother volunteers to hypnotise Chris to cure him of his smoking habit. Unsettling tensions steadily rise and Chris begins to wonder: is it prejudiced paranoia or is something lurking beneath the overly-PC attitudes and prolonged smiles?
As uniformly strong as the cast is, Peele’s razor-sharp screenplay and mastery of tone steals the show. The first-time director deftly weaves tense thrills and dark comedy into his powerfully unnerving twist on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner; it evolves gradually from a psychological thriller to an all-out horror film with some stylishly crafted sequences and disturbing implications. Every detail and subtext has a payoff, and the ramped up suspense keeps you on your toes until the bonkers-yet-satisfying finale, one which might recall Ira Levin’s novel The Stepford Wives and matches the best of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series. The beauty is that whatever you think is going on, you’re wrong.
As if the well-filmed, memorable beats and merciful lack of cheap jump scares weren’t enough, Get Out also works as a potent satire with something to say. Peele ignores the usual suspects and instead decides to expose and critique post-Obama racial attitudes, targeting those who pride themselves on their liberal values. You won’t be able to shake off its sphincter-clenching sense of dread in a hurry, and chances are you won’t think about hypnotists, teacups or bingo in the same way ever again. One not to miss, unless the prospect of meeting your significant other’s folks already has you sweating buckets.
Get Out | Directed by Jordan Peele (US, 2017) with Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener. Starts May 04.
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