Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, about an African-American photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) visiting the remote family home of his white girlfriend (Allison Williams), will scare you, make you laugh and perhaps make you uncomfortable. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
“GET OUT!” screams a friend, called furtively on a cellphone. It’s a logical, if shrill, bit of advice: Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an affable young African-American photographer visiting the remote family home of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), is feeling increasingly uncomfortable. The parents are asking strange questions, the family’s black servants seem eerily robotic, the girlfriend’s man-bunned brother is so creepily weird he’s practically vibrating … and why does someone keep unplugging Chris’ phone?
“Get Out,” minus exclamation point, is also the title of the smart, slick directorial debut of Jordan Peele, one-half of the creative duo behind the very funny Comedy Central series “Key & Peele.” But while there’s undeniably some comedy in the movie — most of it coming from that excitable friend, played with impeccable timing by Milton “Lil Rel” Howery — “Get Out” is no laugh riot, but a sometimes chilling genre film; a sort of “Stepford Wives” crossed with “Rosemary’s Baby” and given a racial twist.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Get Out,’ with Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Milton “Lil Rel” Howery, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Lakeith Stanfield, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson. Written and directed by Jordan Peele. 105 minutes. Rated R for violence, bloody images, and language including sexual references. Several theaters.
Peele skillfully blends all the expected ingredients of contemporary horror films — the animal corpses, the mysterious doings in the basement, the dead people who won’t stay dead; the Sudden Jolting Appearance of a Creepy Person (complete with accompanying shriek in the musical score) — with something less familiar. Why does Georgina (Betty Gabriel), the family’s housekeeper, wear such an eerily plastic smile? Why is Walter, the groundskeeper, so glassily unreceptive to Chris’ friendly overtures? Why are there no white servants? Why does Rose’s mother (Catherine Keener) stare at Chris so intently, like he’s a screen she’s trying to adjust? Is Chris being paranoid — seeing racism and malice where they aren’t — or is something more sinister at play here?
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“Get Out” will scare you, make you laugh and perhaps make you uncomfortable. It’s supposed to. Peele loses control of the tone a few times along the way (what’s the deal with the blind art dealer?), but overall it’s an impressive debut. You might find yourself screaming along with Chris’ friend — but you won’t want to get out, not until the final frame.