Film review: Get Out hits the mark with horror, race and satire
Plot satirises a genuine American problem: the racial and social divide that often has black people coming off worse. Its comedian director ratchets up the tension and shocks without resorting to cheap tricks
The premise of the American film Get Out, about a young working-class black man travelling to the affluent suburbs to meet the family of his white girlfriend, feels like it was taken straight out of a stand-up routine by a black comedian.
While the awkward interactions that fill the early frames – the father, as if to prove he’s not prejudiced, volunteers out of the blue that he would vote for Obama again – may feel clichéd and over-the-top to those unfamiliar with America’s racial dynamics; stand-up comedy jokes are usually based on reality.
This is perhaps why Get Out, which is directed by black comedian Jordan Peele and made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival four days after Donald Trump became president, has been the surprise hit of the year so far in the US. It’s a horror film that satirises a genuine American problem: the racial and social divide that often has black people getting a bad deal.
The plot is straightforward: as the black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), continues to interact with his girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) family and friends, he begins to suspect something sinister may be afoot. Peele directs with flair, ratcheting up the tension and shocks without resorting to cheap scares or excessive gore.
It’s obvious, however, that Peele took The Stepford Wives as a blueprint. The 1975 horror classic doubled as a social commentary for some men’s fear of, and disdain for, the growing feminist movement, and Get Out essentially replaces that movement with Black Lives Matter.
With solid direction and acting across the board (Catherine Keener is especially creepy as the hypnotherapist mother) and a cathartic finale, it’s easy to see why the film has been so popular with young Americans in the age of Trump. To audiences in Asia who may not understand – or care – about the satire, Get Out is still a decent horror film.
Get Out opens on May 18
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