May 30, 2017
A quick guide to the ranking system:
8.5 – 10 : Loved it.
6.5 – 8 : Liked it.
4.5 – 6 : Worth a watch.
2.5 – 4 : Didn’t like it.
0.5 – 2 : Hated it.
0 : Watching paint dry.
Director: Jordan Peele.
Length: 103 minutes.
Mid-credits scene? No.
After-credits scene? No.
Warning: this review has spoilers for the movie Get Out. Read part I for a spoiler-free preview/review!
Although it’ll probably be one of the last things on your mind after watching Get Out, the very first scene sets the tone for the rest of the film, while also being an absolute treat to watch. In it, we follow a young black man, later revealed to be Andre Hayworth or Logan King (LaKeith Stanfield), trying to make his way through a confusing suburb at night. In a single continuous shot, the camera then circles around Hayworth as he tries and fails to escape abduction from a masked man in a white car. Somehow, the physical scene gets even scarier accompanied by the cheery, upbeat Run Rabbit Run chorus playing from the car radio in the background. These sinister undertones then stew beneath the surface up until the very last scene.
However, like Hayworth, the scene is then quickly forgotten as we meet our protagonist Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his sweet and supportive girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). From there, we learn that the interracial couple plan to spend the weekend at Rose’s family house in the country, where Chris will meet her parents for the very first time. From there, the tension only rises as the movie goes on, kick started when the couple hit a deer with their car in one of the film's few jump-scares. But it’s not only things like that or the phenomenal, vocal-heavy soundtrack that help build the eerie atmosphere. Instead, it’s almost more tense when we see the ordinary, or at least believably ordinary; whether that’s the nice but offensively unaware parents, the unsettling distant black house- and grounds-keepers, the rude and slightly unhinged brother, or the surprise family gathering, it’s almost like a voice in the back of your mind is telling you something bad is about to happen and yet - like a deer in headlights - you can’t see where it’s coming from at all until it's too late.
And that’s how it is for most of the film, even when you learn the absolute extent of the Armitage’s nefarious plot. But that’s more because it’s such a strong thriller than anything else; the suspense in the film is very well handled and extremely tight-lipped. Just when you think you’ve finally figured it all out, the movie springs yet another twist to masterfully wrest back your feeling of fear. And what's more impressive, in my opinion, is that they’re not twists for the sake of twisting either; clues are scattered all over the movie, but for some reason, you just don’t put them together until it’s too late. For instance, one of the biggest reveals in the film is that Rose has been in on it the whole time. Yet, throughout the film she doesn’t let the policeman see Chris’s ID, conveniently forgets about the “annual family gathering", lures him away to miss his auction, and has a box of pictures of ex-black-boyfriends despite telling Chris he was the first. Even so, for some reason, I still wanted to believe that she was just hypnotized too.
The suspense is also helped by fantastic performances by the entire cast. Allison Williams’s performance in particular was amazing. Before the reveal, she played the role of the innocent girlfriend perfectly. Afterwards, Rose is colder and more sinister than the rest of the family put together – I mean, her way of “recruiting” is somehow worse than the alternative of physical kidnapping – and it’s largely because of Williams that such a stark contrast between the two is even believable. Daniel Kaluuya was very good too, and he showed an impressive range. I thought his performance stood out especially in the therapy session, where you can just feel the character’s regret over his mother’s death. Lil Rel Howery, who played Chris’s best friend Rod Williams, was also a stand out performer, though mostly because of his great comedic timing and delivery, as his character was mostly contained to comedic relief. Overall, I think the greatest compliment I can give the entire cast is that the characters feel real and I don't want them to be.
And that realness also extends to the rest of the film too. Perhaps one of the most impressive feats, then, is the satire itself, which feels organic. Though there are times when issues are tackled head on - like when the policeman asks Chris for his driver’s license after they hit the deer, or the misdirect with the police car at the very end (watch the "direct" alternate ending below!) - most of it is a lot subtler. If you don’t look for it closely, you could easily miss it all, and, believe me, there’s a lot to miss. It almost seems as if nothing in the film is coincidence, and I’ve found myself connecting dots at the most random times even weeks after watching it.
On one level, the satire comes from the well written and authentic language. For instance, when we first meet Rose’s father Dean (Brad Whitford), he proceeds to add “slang” to his sentences, saying things like “my man” or “thang”; or how he says something to the effect of “I would have voted for Barack Obama a third term if I could”; or the scene at the dinner table where he intentionally omits basketball when asking about Chris’s sports; or how Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) brings up Chris’s genetics when talking about MMA. This is then uncomfortably dialed up at the family gathering the next morning, when various family friends quiz Chris about being black, asking him things about golf and Tiger Woods, being “cool”, his sex life (read this great New York Times article by Wesley Morris about black male sexuality in film), and various other things like that; there is also one Asian character in that scene, however that may also have extra significance. And while it is all very uncomfortable to hear, it is unfortunately realistic.
There are also a few instances of very clever word play. As Chris tours the house, Dean tells him the basement, which is later revealed to be where white brains are transferred into black bodies, is said to have black mold. He also tells Chris that he couldn’t let the house- and grounds-keeper go after Rose's grandparents died, which is of course because her grandparents inhabited their bodies.
The film is chock full of black-and-white imagery too: Chris, for one, is a black-and-white photographer, Dean and Rose's mother Missy (Catherine Keener) wear black on the day Chris arrives, Rose dresses in white after her reveal, and she also separates white milk from colored cereal as a snack. And that’s what I got after just one viewing, and I’m sure there’s more. The film also takes traditionally “white” objects and integrates them into the plot. Bingo plays a role in the silent auction scene (again, one of the not so subtle things) and a lacrosse stick is used to threaten Chris. Rose also looks for her next victim by searching “NCAA prospects” – apparently, Keegan Michael Key, the
(Peele) Key in Key and Peele, makes a cameo as one of the prospects on her Bing search.
I should mention that Chris picks cotton to escape captivity as well.
But the film has extraordinary depth beyond that. Instead, everything in the film is thought out to the tiniest of tiny details, every question can be answered: Why does the grandfather sprint at night? Because he regrets losing to Jesse Owens. Why does Georgina constantly fix her hair? The same reason all the converted black people wear hats, to conceal the scars from the operation. Why did Missy get rid of Chris’s smoking habit? So Chris wouldn’t be “damaged”; also why she didn’t want Jeremy wrestling him.
The so-called “sunken place” Chris goes to when he is hypnotized can also relate to photography, in that he sees the world through a tiny viewfinder and can simply spectate. It may also be a reference to the stereotype that black people can’t swim. Chris’s mother’s death is also mirrored with Rose’s, though with more satisfying resolution the second time around.
Unfortunately, the downside to all this is that it's hard not to attempt to find hidden meanings with everything else - on that note, what was the point of the toe-nail collection and tongue-biting stories?
With all of that being said, it wouldn’t be right to talk about the film without addressing the comedic aspects as well. Given director Peele’s background in comedy, there was no doubt in my mind that the film would be great in that aspect, and of course it is. What’s particularly impressive is the way the comedy works with the dramatic parts of the movie, and it never seems to interfere with the tension. As mentioned with the performances, Rod was certainly a highlight.
Unfortunately, there is a problem, and that problem is product placement. For certain things like the Canon camera Chris uses, it’s okay. It’s not intrusive at all and it’s believable. But then there’s other things like all the Microsoft products in the film; the characters use everything from Surfaces to Windows phones to, the worst of them all in my opinion, Bing. It's not Transformers level bad, but it does break immersion. Also, there is a possibility, albeit a very small one, that Get Out is a really well-disguised TSA propaganda film.
Finally, although the film’s finale was great and extraordinarily satisfying to watch, especially how Chirs manages to escape and outsmart Jeremy, I am a bit confused about how Chris managed to kill Missy with the knife, given that it stuck out of the back of his hand – it just seems like an awkward angle. Also, Rose probably should’ve noticed the fire earlier. But apart from these minor knocks, it's fantastic.
So, in conclusion, watch Get Out: 9/10
We’ll be showing Get Out at 19:00 on the 30th of May and 1st of June; you can get tickets at the door from 18:45. Oh, and if you haven’t already, read part I for a preview of the film.
Thank you for reading! You can find more previews and reviews like this one here! If you have any questions, you can e-mail the cinema at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com. Check out our Twitter and Facebook for more details, or if you don’t have Facebook or Twitter, the Imperial Cinema website’s got all your needs covered!
Why can't you hear a pterodactyl going to the bathroom?
Because the "p" is silent!