Screen Savor: “Get Out” for Laughs and Shocks

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Daniel Kaluuya as "Chris" in Jordan Peele's "Get Out" (Universal)

Don’t be put off by the “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” meets “The Stepford Wives/Rosemary’s Baby” vibe of “Get Out” (Universal), because Jordan Peele’s mind-blowing debut as writer AND director, is so much more. It’s a smart comedy, a reverent and referential horror flick, and it’s a meaningful statement about race in the age of Trump. It’s also the first step to forgiving Peele for 2016’s abysmal “Keanu.”

Promising photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams), his girlfriend of five months, are leaving the city for a weekend trip at her parents’ house in lily-white suburbia. Chris experiences some trepidation, joking with Rose about whether or not her parents know that he’s African-American, but she puts his mind at ease. However, Chris’s cautious TSA agent best friend Rod (LilRel Howery) is more concerned about the potential for trouble than Chris is.

Initially, it seems that Rose’s neurosurgeon father Dean (Bradley Whitford) and psychiatrist mother Missy (Catherine Keener) couldn’t be nicer. As Rose predicted he’d do, Dean tells Chris he would have voted for Obama for a third term if he could. And Missy appears genuinely concerned about Chris’ cigarette habit, even offering to hypnotize as a means of cessation.

But soon Chris begins to detect that things are amiss, beginning with the family’s black staff; cook Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and gardener Walter (Marcus Henderson). The arrival of Rose’s unstable brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) only increases Chris’ sense of unease. When word of a long-planned annual party, to take place while he and Rose are there is announced, Chris (and the audience) are right to think that not everything is as it seems.

Included among the almost exclusively white partygoers is African-American guest Logan (Lakeith Stanfield), whom Chris attempts to relate to as a “brother,” only to find out that he acts as suspiciously as Georgina and Walter. When the flash from Chris’ camera phone momentarily breaks Logan’s spell, he urges Chris to “get out,” a familiar horror-film refrain. Unfortunately, already hypnotized by Missy without fully realizing it, it’s already too late for Chris.

That’s basically all that can be said without revealing each brilliantly conceived twist, turn and homage to contemporary horror and suspense cinema. Gory and giddy, terrifying and totally hilarious, “Get Out” is already an early wild-card contender for one of the best films of 2017, and Peele probably has a Best Director Oscar nod in his future. Rating: A-

 


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