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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Movie Review: "Get Out"

I missed "Get Out" when it first hit theaters in February, but just caught up with it on DVD. I'm glad I did, because it's one of my favorites of the year.

It was directed by Jordan Peele, whose work with partner Keegan-Michael Key on their Comedy Central series, and in the movie "Keanu" (my review is here) usually made me laugh out loud. While there's some dark comedy in "Get Out," Peele's first solo venture as screenwriter and director, it's really a thriller -- and it delivers.

The plot involves Daniel Kaluuya and Alison Williams going off to the country to meet her parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) for the first time. In the car, Kaluuya asks Williams if she's told them he's African-American, and she says no, but it won't be a problem, because her father's the kind of guy who'll say he would have voted for Barack Obama a third time, if that were possible.

Kaluuya's a little bit anxious about this, and it turns out he'll have good reasons. Once at their big estate, he notices that there's something odd about the family's two African-American employees, a housekeeper and a groundskeeper. They seem somewhat robotic, perhaps Stepford-Wife-like, but he can't put his finger on it. He also meets some of the family's friends, including Stephen Root and a bunch of other white people, all of whom are a little too happy to meet him. Then Kaluuya discovers that Keener can hypnotize people and, well, I'm going to stop right there, because to tell you more of the plot would be to spoil the fun.

For a rookie director, Peele has all the chops of more accomplished filmmakers. He gets good, tight performances out of his cast, keeps the pace moving as the story builds, and though nothing really scary happens, he doesn't hedge on the creepiness, right up to the very satisfactory finale. Some of the early marketing of "Get Out" indicated it was a horror movie, but it's not. It's a tense thriller with enough slow reveals to keep the viewer riveted, very much in the tradition of "The Twilight Zone" and "Black Mirror."

I hope Peele gets some recognition come Oscars time for both his script and his direction. One thing is for sure -- with a budget of only $5 million and a box office take (so far) of $175 million, "Get Out" should launch Peele into whatever project he wants to do next with lots of green lights ahead in Hollywood.

I give "Get Out" a 9 out of 10. It will be on my Best Of 2017 list.