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Film review: Get Out is a truly terrifying film that deals with racism in a clever and absorbing way

While horror movie Get Out is short on traditional scares, its depiction of the disturbing reality of casual racism in liberal society will chill you to the bone.
From left, Missy (Catherine Keener), Dean (Bradley Whitford), Rose (Allison Williams), Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) in Get Out. Photo by Justin Lubin
From left, Missy (Catherine Keener), Dean (Bradley Whitford), Rose (Allison Williams), Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) in Get Out. Photo by Justin Lubin

Jordan Peele’s Get Out is one of the more intriguing and provocative horror movies to come out of Hollywood in recent years.

Perhaps it is not a surprise it comes from Blumhouse Productions, the company behind lucrative low-budget horror franchises such as Paranormal Activity and The Purge.

Producer Jason Blum is as sharp as they come in, sensing how to produce commercial, yet credible, chillers.

Get Out, though, is really the brainchild of writer-director Peele, best known for his satirical TV comedy show partnership with Keegan-Michael Key.

Together, Key and Peele made the movie Keanu, which Peele co-wrote and was released last year. It had its moments but ran out of steam in the final third.

Get Out is much better conceived and executed, taking its concept to the bitter end. A horror-thriller that deals with racial prejudice in a clever and absorbing way, the pitch is “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner-meets-The Stepford Wives”, which – if you have seen – should give you some idea what to expect.

African-American Chris (British actor Daniel Kaluuya) heads for a weekend in the country with his white girlfriend Rose (Girls star Allison Williams). About to meet her folks for the first time, he is understandably apprehensive, especially when Rose informs him she hasn’t told them he is black.

Chris is not reassured to learn her family are liberals and her father would have voted for Obama for a third term if he could.

When he arrives at the house, the welcome is warm from Rose’s hypnotherapist mother, Missy (Catherine Keener), and neurologist father Dean (Bradley Whitford).

Rose’s brother Jeremy (Calab Landry Jones) is a spiky presence but nothing unexpected. Soon, though, Chris begins to sense something is wrong, notably with the family’s African-American hired-help: handyman Walter (Marcus Henderson) and housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel). Both seem strangely robotic, almost devoid of feelings.

Peele takes his sweet time before revelations open Chris’s eyes to the horrifying truth. As a comedian, he knows all about set-ups, pacing and punchlines – and Get Out is no different.

Story elements are gradually infused into the narrative, beginning with a possibly racist police officer encountered on the journey to Rose’s parents.

Some of Get Out is rather functional. Rod (comedian Lil Rel Howery), a TSA agent, a friend with whom Chris spends a lot of time on the phone reporting the strange goings on, only exists to move the plot along or get cheap laughs.

It can also be argued that as a horror movie, the film is not really so frightening – though Peele certainly knows how to unnerve the audience (right down to the sound of a teaspoon clinking on a china cup).

Get Out scores most highly in its depiction of a racially divided America, where white liberals live in cloistered communities feeling smug about their political correctness.

This is what makes the film feel like a smart state-of-the-nation address, and Peele’s satirical jabs, aimed squarely at “good white folk”, really hit home.

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: March 29, 2017 04:00 AM

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