By Phillip Guy Ellis (Northampton, England)
Star – Daniel Kaluuya
Genre – Horror/Thriller/Mystery
Run Time – 1 hr 44 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – U.S.A
Amazon – £ DVD £ Blue Ray
Oscars – 4 Nominations
Awards – 99 Wins & 174Nominations
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Whereas The Black Panther is empowering black cinema audiences around the world, Get Out got them equally engaged although not for the same reasons, a telling horror film that really hits home in that community and no surprise its Oscar nominated, East End Brit actor Daniel Kaluuya (the black kid from Skins) a revelation in the lead and also Oscar nominated, winning ‘Best Newcomer’ at the BAFTAS this week.
Black American Director Jordan Peele says he was inspired to write this movie by an Eddie Murphy stand-up joke about horror films when Murphy asks why white people do not leave when there is a ghost in the house and don’t just get the hell out. I suspect the truth is more about Peele knowing the time was right to pen an idea he has had in his head for a while now about subtle racism all black Americans suffer and delivered in one of the smartest and clever scripts for a while now. Chance the Rapper (nope, not heard of him) was so impressed by the power of the movie that he bought all of the available tickets from Chicago movie theaters just so people could go see the film for free as he knew how important the movie was.
The film has been a huge success, its $4.50 million budget doing an impressive $255 million back, Jordan Peele being the first African-American writer and director to earn more than $100 million in a debut film. That gets you noticed in Hollywood and certainly won’t be told to ‘get out’ of the big white chief’s office anymore, whatever your skin color. It’s also the highest ever grossing debut film based on an original screenplay.
The film joins only a handful of horror films to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. It’s the first February release since The Silence of the Lambs (1991 to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. Peele clearly did not know what he had when he slipped it out last February. Peele has also become the second African-American filmmaker in history to be nominated for an Academy Award in a directorial debut. The previous one to hold the rank was John Singleton for the brilliant Boyz n the Hood (1991). Of the five black African American directors to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Director so far, Lee Daniels for Precious (2009), Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave (2013), and Barry Jenkins for Moonlight (2016), four have been in the last ten years. Hollywood is trying very hard to promote black actors and directors and about time too and not in a cringing way even though I fell asleep during the rather righteous 12 Years a Slave.
• Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington
• Zailand Adams as 11-year-old Chris
• Allison Williams as Rose Armitage
• Catherine Keener as Missy Armitage
• Bradley Whitford as Dean Armitage
• Caleb Landry Jones as Jeremy Armitage
• Stephen Root as Jim Hudson
• Lakeith Stanfield as Andre Hayworth / Logan King
• Lil Rel Howery as Rod Williams
• Erika Alexander as Detective Latoya
• Marcus Henderson as Walter / Roman Armitage
• Betty Gabriel as Georgina / Marianne Armitage
• Richard Herd as Roman Armitage
Handsome young black photographer Chris Washington (Kaluuya) reluctantly agrees to meet the family of his pretty white middle – class girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) out in the sticks. During their drive to the countryside estate they run up some road kill and Chris suffers his first subtle racism of the day by the local white sheriff called to investigate the deer hit. The cop asks for Chris’s identification even though he was not driving but Rose stoically defends her man and the cop moves on with no more hassle.
At the rather grand house and we meet Rose’s parents, neurosurgeon Dean (Bradley Whitford) and hypnotherapist Missy (Catherine Keener), and Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones). It’s not long before they start making discomfiting comments about black people. It’s not racism as such but it’s certainly an eyebrow raiser. But it’s no worse than he has experienced before and determined to make the weekend work. He really likes Rose and she keeps sticking up for him
Chris begins to witness odd behavior from the estate’s many black workers, housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) particularly disquieting. Missy catches Chris wandering around at night because he can’t sleep and talks him into a hypnotherapy session to cure his smoking addiction. In a trance, he recounts the death of his mother when he was a child, about which he feels guilty. This allows Missy to sink him into a void called the “sunken place”. This word has strong slave connotations.
The next day nice cars full of wealthy white people arrive for the Armitages’ annual get-together. They admiringly take an inquisitive interest in Chris, complementing his physical appearance and expressing their admiration to him of prominent black figures in sports and entertainment, the way uncomfortable white people do around black people. Jim Hudson (Stephen Root), a blind art dealer, takes particular interest in Chris’s photography skills.
Then things really ramp up as Chris’s conflict and suspicions grow around the gathering, and the Armitage family, not what they seem, Chris soon coming around tied to a chair in the basement with a sore lump on his head watching a strange recording on a black and white TV. He should have run when he had the chance. His best friend Logan (Lakeith Stanfield) had warned him about white folks like these.
The film was named the best-rated of every release of 2017 on Rotten Tomatoes with a 99% score, just one paid critic talking it down but known for that to get publicity. It is rather good folks. It’s daring, provocative, clever and cutting and Jordan Peele yet another voice for black America. He is talking to his target audience through Daniel Kaluuya’s character and letting them experience what that debilitating soft racism is really like, educating/shaming the white audience in the process.
As it serenely sets up the menacing premise and cranked up into a full on threat you’re still not sure why the film has been such a big hit. Once the big reveal comes you are very aware and one of those films where you then get why that happened before and why that happened before and it all slots into place beautifully. You are not to know from the early clues and the film is multi genre all the way through. The ending is a bit Hollywood but hard to finish the film either way.
The cast is excellent and their eyes must have popped out of their head when they saw the script. You just don’t get clever horror anymore. For confirmed rainbow nation liberals Katherine Keener and Bradley Whitford to take on a right role like this you know it had to be good. Daniel Kaluuya is very good and mixes comedy, pathos and terror to great effect, and with a cool American accent. The tear in his eye in the ‘sunken place’ hits home to a lot of people in that community. Because of the current climate over oppressed black representation at the Oscars it’s not impossible he could win the Oscar although Gary Oldman pretty nailed on now. People, you need to check this movie out. It’s already on NOWTV, just £10 per month.
Imdb.com – 7.7/10.0 (233,256votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 99% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com –84 % critic’s approval
The Nation –’Satire implies the provocation of laughter, even if it’s harsh or mocking. The truly disturbing Get Out seldom raises so much as a smile’.
Salon.com –’By focusing the storyline on a particular form of racism — the kind that’s often disguised as peculiar envy — Get Out reveals something more insidious’.
Time Magazine –’Peele succeeds where sometimes even more experienced filmmakers fail: He’s made an agile entertainment whose social and cultural observations are woven so tightly into the fabric that you’re laughing even as you’re thinking, and vice-versa’.
Times–UK – ‘In a double whammy of satire, Get Out upends all the expected tropes of the horror movie and gives middle-class white liberals a thorough skewering’.
Empire Magazine –’To call it the most important movie of the year so far makes it sound possibly rather worthy. That’s not true at all. Get Out is a comment on a highly complex situation that’s also a total blast’.
San Antonio Times –’ Dark comedy, sharp social satire and mainstream horror elements merge into the strange and smartly written first feature by filmmaker Jordan Peele, who drives his critique of cultural appropriation into a clever, anti-racism statement’.