Get Out

This much hyped directorial debut from Jordan Peele is the perfect example of a multi-talented director. Previously co-creating and starring in arguably the greatest sketch show of all time Key and Peele, Peele shifts into a more serious mode with this gripping and wonderfully inventive race-based horror-thriller that could in fact be described as the first progressive horror film. 

The film follows young couple Chris and Rose as they embark on a weekend trip to visit Rose's family. Chris' uncertainty grows as the visit takes a number of disconcerting twists and turns, with his suspicion that his African-American ethnicity is the issue for Rose's parents. Daniel Kaluuya is great as the instantly likeable Chris and Allison Williams equally as charming as girlfriend Rose, with Kaluuya, previously impressing in the Black Mirror episode "Fifteen Million Merits," also an excellent fit for the horror aspect of the film, his reactions suitably amplified for maximum effect. For much of the film however, the real stars are the supporting cast. 

Catherine Keener as Rose's psychiatrist mother Missy and Bradley Whitford as father Dean are absolutely chilling and bring the exact amount of uncomfortable tension and awkwardness to their roles, resulting in cagey exchanges between them and Chris that gradually reveal the flaws in their family. Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson as the housekeepers Georgina and Walter also add perfectly to the mysterious air of the family, Chris instantly suspicious of a white family hiring black people to work around the house.

The ingenuity and sheer brilliance of Peele's film is almost impossible to explain without giving away too much of the film. In fact, even the trailer reveals too much of the film. Put simply, his manipulation of what initially appears to be a race-based drama into a tense, shocking thriller that provides numerous chills and a surprising amount of darkly comedic moments, (One of Dean's first awkward remarks to Chris is that he would have voted for Obama for a third time), works perfectly and is all so brilliantly wrapped up that every single moment makes sense by the end. It is rare for a horror or even a thriller to have so few plot holes, a commendable achievement in itself. 

It is also an idea that, when you think about it, was perfect as a horror premise. Casting a black protagonist and making racism the overwhelming fear of the film is both unique and highly effective. While it is unclear to me how explicitly the film is intending to deliver a political message, with Peele himself explaining that he wanted to "represent the black experience, but also just [represent] race in the horror-movie genre and in the public conversation," it works on a number of levels. To me, it is simply an, albeit exaggerated, representation of Peele's view on our current views on race and the issues that come with it.  

The film also represents something of a mini-renaissance for the production company Blumhouse. Their business model of low-budget horror flicks, while resulting in huge successes such as Paranormal Activity and Insidious, has also resulted in countless dreary sequels and numerous cliche ridden, jumpscare reliant bore fests. But with the release of Get Out, and their previous film Split (an ambitious and largely successful rebirth for M. Night Shyamalan), they have taken a more intelligent and risk-taking route that hopefully they will pursue further. 

As mentioned above, for a film advertised as a horror-thriller, it is surprisingly humorous. The chief source of this is Chris' friend Rod, a TSA worker whose paranoia and concern about Chris' situation leads him on an investigative trail that includes him being ridiculed by the police for his seemingly ridiculous story. The increasingly embarrassing remarks from Rose's family as they try to "fit in" with Chris are also often hilarious in their cringe-worthiness and may make more than a few audience members squirm with familiarity.

Once a comedy master with Key and Peele, Jordan Peele has just as effectively asserted his presence in the thriller genre with a highly effective, immaculately paced film that has provoked some of the best audience reactions I've witnessed. This is exactly the kind of creativity that horror fans have been clamouring for.