Daniel Kaluuya has been in his early twenties for like 10 years now. I guess he’s the sort of actor who you’d look at them online and be surprised to find out they’re actually thirty something. Turns out he’s only twenty seven which makes me feel real small cos that means he was seventeen when he played Posh Kenneth on Skins, y’know that TV series he also started writing for a year later. Which to be fair I never really got that into, my loss, whenever I think of the guy my mind goes straight to Tealeaf from Sheersmith and Pemberton’s absolutely amazing Psychoville, in which, over the course of the two series, they realise his skill at playing the straight man. Then he was in that Johnny English sequel. Yeah, my mind had him pretty firmly pegged as a comic actor. Until he appeared in Black Mirror and Sicario and I was all like, ‘Oh…’
I’d recommend not watching this.
Then again, Jordan Peele had his place firmly staked out in my mind as a comedian so I guess I got a lot of rethinking to do. Get Out is a proper great film. I think it might be my favourite horror film since The Babadook, not that the two are that similar of course, they’re operating at completely different levels with these resoundingly different tones, but the two of them share this rock solid commitment to the allegorical purity of horror. An internal consistency that sends the plot spinning and spiralling with a wit and inventiveness that just makes sense.
It’s a film school student’s dream, one of those films which is immediately successful, has wide popular appeal, and is also just whip smart. I expect over the next few years university professors will tire of papers titled ‘Examining the varied depictions of racism in Jordan Peele’s Get Out.’ Now it’s so tempting to go into opinion piece mode here in the review, try to analyse all the spinning plates, completely spoil the movie, write my own shitty version of that essay title. I’m not gonna though, I’m just sitting on it for the moment, might do a re-review at the DVD release or something. Just trust that this joint whip smart, try not to catch the trailer, and let it surprise you.
I had seen the trailer, unfortunately it gives away a bit too much, somehow I still managed to be surprised by the cast here. How did they get Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener in here? Not that I’m complaining, they’re both amazing and just nail what’s being asked of them. Seems like it would be easier to play the David Duke then what they’re being asked to do here, in which their characters just have to be casually awful. Take a conversation about how they totally would have voted for Obama a third time, which neatly sidesteps the matter of who was or wasn’t voted for. Let’s not downplay Peele’s hand here as he just wrings these characters out, getting them to play right down the line, they say the difference between horror and comedy is the lighting, and the performances here nudge up to comedy all the time, so well played.
But let’s be fair, this film ain’t about the white folks. Dan Kaluuya’s comedy past serves him well in all the grimaces and glances and awkward silences he’s forced to participate in, during his character, Chris’, visit to his white girlfriend’s family gathering. Likewise other comedy alum Lil Rel Howery puts a great turn as Rod, Chris’ friends who seems uneasy with the whole situation, he’s pretty much the comic relief of the joint, and being mostly detached from the action could have resulted in him being an unwelcome intrusion, but the tone he adopts and the charisma he possesses wash away all those worries.
Is it still okay for me to really dislike Caleb Landry Jones. I mean, I get it, he’s so often used to a specific effect, and even here it makes sense. I just hate his complicity in the whole affair. I get it, you got that whole androgyny thing going on, you do fey very well, you gotta get your roles somewhere, but holy shit do you do you do us few favours. Maybe by this point I’m just being unfair, but please try better dude, stop leaning into those same tropes over and over again, you played a trans woman once and you going all Jared Leto, try not to screw things up more.
Well, now I got that out, if my biggest complaint with a film is my dislike of Landry-Jones’ mediocrity, it gotta be a pretty good flick. It’s got a good style for something that was shot on the cheap, there are some especially nice comic touches in the way the set design evokes a certain brand of whiteness. It got a good knowledge in the history of horror in the images it creates and its diversions into the surreal manage to be legit disconcerting, while also intrinsically linked to the psychology of the whole.
I’ll stop before I wonder too far into platitudes, my anathema to presenting spoilers, especially when it comes to good films, preventing me from saying anything interesting. But if a 2017 low-budget horror film can get this many internet pissbabies riled up on the review section of IMDB you know it gotta be worth seeing, even if just for those white male tears.