Saturday, April 22, 2017

With 'Get Out', Jordan Peele Makes a Splash

After watching Keanu last year, which I had enjoyed, I had been looking forward to what Key and Peele could bring next to the big screen.  I didn’t expect that that would be – at least, coming from half of them – an original, well-written horror film.

The movie, titled Get Out, is about a black man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) who gets invited by his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to go on a weekend trip to her home and meet her family.  Christ is wary at first since Rose has failed to mention to her family that she’s dating a black man.  But she reassures him that her family isn’t going to be prejudiced against their interracial relationship.  And it seems to be indeed like that when he gets to meet them, as they treat him very cordially.  But as the weekend passes, Chris begins to notice that some things are off, which eventually leads him to a very sinister discovery.
Get Out is very much Jordan Peele’s opus, as he serves as its producer, writer, and director (his debut).  And with it, he makes a huge splash as a filmmaker.  It’s a fresh, brilliant film that’s capably entertaining and thought-provoking.  The direction doesn’t seem to be the work of a rookie, but a seasoned veteran.  The editing is polished.  And the performances drawn from its relatively unknown cast is on par with more famous stars.  Most importantly and impressively (in the perspective of Hollywood), it’s a tremendous box office success – earning a whopping $184.2 million (as of writing; it’s still earning) from a mere $4.5 million budget.

It should probably not come as a surprise that Peele has been able to craft a good, effective horror film since a couple of Key & Peele sketches are actually quite disturbing.

Get Out wraps its narrative in mystery, and subtly and gradually builds its unsettling atmosphere up to execute an optimum thrill ride.  It’s a well-paced, smart story that keeps you guessing till the end.
Moreover, not only is this movie truly creepy, but it’s also pretty funny.  It has a notable satirical edge.  And through this, as all great satires go, it delivers a deeper message.  In a sense, it’s a biting social commentary on how the embarrassingly “overhelpful” white liberal’s hubris for black people is as uncomfortable and harmful to them as racism.

My only nitpick – a very tiny one – is that I felt the movie could have benefited from a more pessimistic, controversial ending.  The setup was readily available, and in a way, it seems to have been a missed opportunity.  That is (SPOILERS in the rest of this paragraph) if the cop that Chris encountered earlier in the movie was the one who found him at the end, and would have made a prejudiced conclusion that he was the aggressor instead of the victim, that he massacred Rose’s family.  For a second, it even felt it was going there when a patrol car arrived.  But it turned out being Chris’ TSA friend.  This said, I acknowledge the value of the ending Peele opted with.  In fact, it’s probably even the wiser course, considering the big picture.
Get Out is already being hailed as a masterpiece by many (it even has a 99% rating in Rotten Tomatoes as of writing).  I won’t go that far.  Yet.  It requires a few more viewings, until the point I realize that it still holds up after the passage of time.

Nonetheless, I’m excited on what surprising film Jordan Peele will make next.

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