“Do they know I’m black?” says Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) to girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). He’s asking about her parents because he and Rose will visit them for the weekend. “No,” says Rose, “should they?” “It seems like something you might want them to know,” Chris says. That’s the setup for this truly scary “social thriller,” as writer/director Jordan Peele describes his film.
Are Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy Armitage (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener) all they appear to be? If not, what are they hiding? Is Chris in danger visiting this up-state, up-scale, white community? For answers, see “Get Out.”
Daniel Kaluuya is Chris Washington, 26-year-old professional photographer, through whose eyes the “Get Out” story unfolds. Because we care about Chris — thanks to Kaluuya’s smart, affective performance — “Get Out’s” scary last act works: we really want Chris to survive. Allison Williams is also convincing as girlfriend Rose Armitage, a more complex character than we first suppose.
Others in the cast include Catherine Keener as Missy Armitage, Rose’s psychiatrist mother, and Bradley Whitford, as Dean Armitage, surgeon father, both white liberals. Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson are Georgina and Walter, black, live-in couple who work for the Armitages, but whose emotionless behavior Chris finds disturbingly odd. Caleb Landry Jones is Rose’s unpredictable younger brother. Lil’Rel Howery plays Chris’ best friend, TSA agent Rod Williams.
“Get Out” is the best horror film I’ve seen in a long time. Genuinely scary — especially in its last act — and compelling, it’s also a movie you’ll want to talk about and, if you’re like me, may want to watch again to see how the filmmakers did it. Jason Peele, writer and director, makes an excellent impression with this, his first film. It’s got sharp and cutting satire — white liberals, for example, trying too hard not to sound racist. “By the way,” says Dean, “I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could. Best president in my lifetime, hands down.” “Get Out” also has enough edge-of-your-seat thrills to satisfy horror film fans like me.
Rated R for violence, bloody images, sexual references and language, “Get Out” runs 103 minutes. As David Edelstein, “New York” magazine’s film critic writes, it’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967) meets “The Stepford Wives” (1975). It’s one smart, scary movie.
“Get Out” is that rare success:
A serious horror flick;
Chills and social satire;
Jordan Peele knows the trick.