Friday 14 April 2017

Film Review: Get Out

After making waves at the US box office, Get Out arrives on Australian screens next month - but the question is, should you care?

Directed by the second half of sketch comedy duo Key and Peele, Get Out is a riotous horror/thriller/comedy that will delight and terrify in equal measure. Through a deft understanding of genre and concise storytelling, Peele melds a whole range of influences with his own clear vision to concoct something powerful and wholly enthralling from start to finish.

It's Scream, The Shining, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Hot Fuzz all at once, and whilst these influences are plain as day on occasion, the overall experience is nothing if not original. Peele might wear them on his sleeve, but the finished product is polished and moulded into something wholly new and refreshing.

The film centres on Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams), a mixed race couple who, after dating for a few months, decide to head upstate for a weekend with her family at their spacious country lodge. Upon arriving it’s immediately obvious that something suss is about to go down; Rose’s parents are almost too accommodating.

An uncomfortable pause here, a quick glance across the dinner table there; something isn’t right, but both the couple and the audience are having a hard time placing it. They're clearly unsettled by Chris' race - but why and what that means remains shrouded in secrecy. A series of dark omens foreshadow something horrible - but nothing as disturbing as the fate awaiting them both.

Get Out is like a feature length episode of Black Mirror in that it lays out a paranoia-infused premise and dutifully sticks to it. Even when it dips into other territory, like biting black comedy or Hitchcockian suspense, it stays true to its central idea and executes it with aplomb. I honestly can’t praise this film enough; it’s meticulous and meaningful from end to end and feels watertight. Peele instils his film with rich symbolism and visual metaphors that deepen the film, transforming it from just your average horror/thriller into a layered exploration of the societal expectations of race.

It's the kind of film you could pour over for weeks and weeks, unpacking every frame, cue and item for significance or symbolic meaning. Plus, as I mentioned, it feels ironclad. Not a single second or line of dialogue feels wasted or superfluous - even the most throwaway comment circles back to haunt you later, sometimes quite literally. The ideas at work arrive fully fleshed and it's amazing how assured the whole affair feels across the board. It feels like Peele really knew where he wanted to steer the film and had the know-how to take it there.

On top of this potent visual storytelling and excellent plotting, the acting throughout Get Out is stellar. Kaluuya is great as the average joe plunged into all manner of weird shit, and he sells the hell out of some deeper character stuff later on; Allison Williams is also superb as Rose for a bundle of reasons I can't talk about without spoiling stuff. Catherine Keener is certainly chilling, but I felt like her significance was a little underplayed. The MVP in my mind is undoubtedly Lil Rey Howrey as Roy, Chris' best friend. He is an absolute blast, even when the creepy shit is creeping up to 11.

Focused and fun, Get Out is a rollicking good time that isn't afraid to leave you with something to think about. The ending is straight-up masterful - I was perched on the edge of my seat, fearing for the absolute worst and 100% invested in where the conclusion was heading. There is a reason that this film has both sparked debate and been a riotous crowd-pleaser in the States - it really is that good. Believe the hype.

The Verdict: 10/10

Get Out is a straight-up breath of fresh air that proves you should never pigeonhole a film or overlook something smaller. It's creepy, hilarious and close to the knuckle often in the same scene, a debut film so confident and competent that it's hard to believe this is Peele's debut feature.

Get Out opens in cinemas across Australia on May 4.

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