The horror genre has a long-standing history of social commentary, from the racial issues addressed in George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, to the Aids allegory prevalent throughout Near Dark. However never before has it felt more relevant or well-handled than in Jordan Peele’s debut film, Get Out.
The film follows young African-American photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) as he travels to the isolated countryside with his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams) in order to meet her parents for the first time. Chris is assured that Rose’s parents are not racist, and that her dad would have voted for Obama for a third time if he could.
So begins an expectedly typical fish-out-of-water scenario, with their arrival coinciding with the ‘big get-together’ for family friends, all of whom are white, and are attended to by black servants. Chris is exposed to the awkwardness and hypocrisy of white-liberal America as characters name-drop Jesse Owens and Tiger Woods in order to create some common ground, or outright ask Rose whether it’s true what they say about ‘down there’. As the weekend goes on, however, something much more sinister and twisted begins to unfold which is truly haunting and, at the same time, wonderfully satirical.
Through all of this, the audience is left to squirm at the uncomfortable discourse taking place on screen and subtle humour that could only come from the likes of Jordan Peele – one half of comedy duo Key and Peele. As one might expect, Get Out is not a traditional horror film. The director himself has described it as more of a social thriller and, aside from a few formulaic jump-scares, Peele successfully avoids over-using the tropes typical of the genre. The horror is, instead, far more psychological as a result of the film’s cross-examination of race relations in modern America.
The director captures the menace and discomfort Chris feels, translating it perfectly onto the screen. The cast give fantastic performances, particularly Kaluuya and Williams, who exude chemistry together, but also shine individually.
On the surface, Get Out is a deeply refreshing horror-cum-thriller film that borders on Hitchcockian but, at its core, it is the biting satire that has been long overdue. This is not to be missed.