Jordan Peele is probably best known for creating and staring in the sketch comedy series Key & Peele with his partner in comedy, Keegan-Michael Key. When I heard that Peele was writing and directing a horror movie, my expectations were at best the next Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and at worst the next horror comedy spoof. It’s far from either – Get Out is first and foremost a true horror film. Sure, it has some funny moments, but the movie revolves around ideas of horror and mystery. Get Out is a strong directorial debut for Peele and one of the best movies of the year. With rumors that he will be working on a new show with J.J. Abrams and that his next movie with Universal, a social thriller, will hit theaters in 2019, I look forward to seeing what Peele does next.
But for now, let’s talk about Get Out. The movie runs 104 minutes and stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Lil Ren Howery, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, and Stephen Root.
Here is Universal’s Official Description:
“When Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American man, visits his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) family estate, he becomes ensnared in the more sinister, real reason for the invitation. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could never have imagined. This speculative thriller from Blumhouse (producers of The Visit, Insidious series and The Gift) and the mind of Jordan Peele (Key & Peele) is equal parts gripping thriller and provocative commentary.”
Get Out is more psychologically unnerving than flat-out scary. The movie only makes use of two or three “jump scares,” the worst of which involves a deer jumping in front of a car early in the film. There is also some mystery woven throughout the plot. The movie requires viewers to think and ask questions, and it excels in presenting a façade of peace and calm that masks an underlying sense of dread and unease. To say it in a cliché – nothing is as it seems.
This cliché is evident even in the opening scene. The first shot (a beautiful single take which lasts for just under two minutes) follows an African-American man (Stanfield) as he walks alone down a quiet neighborhood street. We see a white Porsche begin to follow him with Flanagan and Allen’s “Run Rabbit Run” playing from the rolled down windows – an inspired song choice for the scene. While the song itself doesn’t sound threatening, the words perfectly match what happens in the rest of the scene. The man is ambushed and stuffed in the trunk, and the song continues to play as the car drives away. The street goes back to being quiet and uneventful.
After the opening credits, we meet the movie’s protagonist, Chris Washington (Kaluuya). Chris, a young photographer, is in an interracial relationship with Rose Armitage (Williams). The time has come for him to meet her family, but he is worried that his race may surprise them. Rose assures him that her family won’t care.
Rose’s parents, Dean (Whitford) and Missy (Keene), and her brother (Jones) try too hard to make Chris feel welcome. Lots of the movie’s humor comes from them, and later other relatives, trying to seem “cool” and accepting of Rose’s new boyfriend. Chris is patient with their efforts, but he is uncomfortable that their groundskeeper (Henderson) and maid (Gabriel) are the only other African-Americans around.
The movie’s first act ends with a wonderfully compelling scene in which Missy attempts to hypnotize Chris to cure him of his smoking. Using her spoon and tea cup, she lulls him into a sense of security and asks him questions about himself. He quickly realizes that he can’t move and begins to panic. Kaluuya and Keene are absolutely wonderful in this scene.
Let’s take a second to discuss a few of the other cast members. Everyone gives a phenomenal performance! Howery plays Chris’s best friend who is often seen giving Chris advice over the phone. He provides lots of the movie’s humor. Whitford is exceptional as always. Stephen Root (known by many as Milton from Office Space) is downright creepy as a blind artist who is interested in Chris’s photography work. It would have been interesting for Root’s character to get just a little bit more screen time and attention, as he is so wonderful in the role.
Back to the plot – the second act doesn’t disappoint. Strange events continue to happen around Chris, and the audience is led to ask more and more questions. The camera work is exceptional throughout the film, but a slow dolly out is used around the halfway mark to reveal one of the movie’s surprising plot twists.
The movie’s biggest plot twist is finally revealed in the third act. Some of the smaller twists are a little bit predictable, but viewers likely won’t see the big twist coming. Looking back, though, it becomes evident that Peele has planted clues throughout the entire story. Personally, I would have liked a little bit more detail. I felt like a few of the smaller plot lines were left unfinished, and I had some questions about the biggest twist that went unanswered.
Overall, the movie is an exceptional directorial debut from Peele. There are outstanding performances, an ever-present sense of unease and dread, and enough mystery and intrigue to keep viewers interested throughout the whole film. I highly recommend this film to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. For those who have already seen it once, watch it a second time for a better appreciation of the clues and details Peele has subtly placed throughout the movie.
The Blu-ray comes with English DTS Master Audio 5.1 and subtitles in English SDH, Spanish, and French. Dialogue is always prioritized over sound effects and the soundtrack, but everything is in balance. To give an example, the scene when Missy hypnotizes Chris encapsulates the movie’s excellent use of audio. The scene begins with the two characters speaking, and we hear Missy begin to stir her tea. As their conversation progresses, she starts to click her spoon against the side of the cup in a slow, steady rhythm. Part of the movie’s peaceful, melodic soundtrack plays quietly. The cup and the soundtrack are clearly heard as the conversation continues, but they never distract from the dialogue. The clicking of the cup and the calm soundtrack contrast perfectly with the unsettling panic Chris begins to feel. Excellent use of audio, not just in this scene, but throughout the whole movie!
The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p HD widescreen format and has an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Widescreen means it does have black bars along the top and bottom of the screen, but with so much else to keep your attention in the movie, those bars will likely be forgotten after just a few minutes. The transfer to Blu-ray is clean, and fine details become much more sharp and clear. No colors appear to be over-saturated. While both versions are fine, watch the Blu-ray if you have the option, just to see those fine, extra details that aren’t as evident on the DVD.
1. Alternate Ending (3:39) – This scene, with optional commentary from Jordan Peele, was closer to how I expected the movie to end. The ending used in the final movie is more unpredictable and ultimately more satisfying to the story.
2. Deleted Scenes (23:04) – Also with optional commentary from Peele, this is a selection of extended and alternate scenes cut from the final movie.
3. Unveiling the Horror of Get Out (8:50) – The cast and crew talk about the movie’s scares and what it was like to work with first-time director Jordan Peele.
4. Q&A Discussion with Jordan Peele and the Cast (5:28) – At a panel hosted by Chance the Rapper, Peele and cast members Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Lil Rel Howery discuss the story’s origins, the casting process, and the impact of racism on the movie.
5. Feature Commentary – The commentary track features only Jordan Peele sharing his inspirations and intentions for each scene. As a huge Stephen King and horror fan, I loved hearing what stories and movies influenced Peele and how he made subtle references to those inspirations in this movie.
I strongly recommend watching Get Out. Jordan Peele has written and directed an excellent thought-provoking psychological thriller. The plot is compelling, and the performances from the cast are outstanding. Viewers are constantly led to ask questions and to possibly reconsider their own beliefs and opinions. The special features offer unique insights into Jordan Peele’s movie-making process. Audio is used quite effectively, and the quality of the transfer to Blu-ray looks great. Don’t miss watching Get Out – it’s one of the best movies of the year so far.