Director: Jordan Peele. Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Katherine Keener. Budget: $4.5 mln. Box office: $252 mln. USA, 2017. IMDb: 7.8. My rating: 3.5/4. Social commentary with elements of thriller, horror and sci-fi.
– The mind is a terrible thing to waste.
(a quote from the movie and the motto of the United Negro College Fund)
– If there’s too many white people I get nervous.
(one of the main characters)
There were, without doubt, some prominent sci-fi debuts that marked the history of cinema, like…
- “Mad Max” (which I don’t really like a lot, but it was hugely influential)
- “Silent Running” (which was undeniably cool in 1972 but didn’t age well)
- “THX 1138” (a disturbing art form of ”1984” by George Lucas, which wasn’t received well but that changed later, as it often happens with dystopias).
There was a huge wave of many good low-budget independent debuts released recently, such as…
…and many other cool flicks. Some of them had mighty figures behind or even directly involved in the production, for example..
Finally, there were some weird and hard to classify sci-fi debuts like…
A full list will be published soon. Anyway.
I doubt whether “Get Out” will become a cult movie like some of these, but it’s an oddball and perfectly crafted movie, mixing all the genres – a bit of comedy, a slice of horror, some sci-fi – all wrapped into a caustic social commentary.
Also, I wouldn’t call it a horror, rather a thriller. It’s not that scary and has little to do with what is intended as modern horror (luckily!) where people like to go in the dark basements and put their limbs in dark holes.
And Samuel L. Jackson’s rant about casting black British actors when plenty of Americans were available is incredible indeed… but more about that later.
The plot. It’s exactly the case when the less you know the better. Don’t watch the trailer, as it shows too much. So, a young Afro American (Daniel Kaluuya) is going to visit for the first time his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) parents (Katherine Keener and Bradley Whitford). He is pretty nervous about that although Rose assures him there’s nothing to worry about. But it takes little time to turn everything into a nightmare…
The production. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key are the creators of comedy sketch series named, guess what, Key & Peele. The show has been running around for 5 seasons and had a good success and a bunch of awards. As Wolfman’s Cult Film Club said, “It’s a comedy sketch show, so it’s pretty fast paced hit and miss sketches. Five seasons, loads on YT. Worth a trying a few. “Alien Imposters” and “Mexican Standoff” and “Dubstep” are a good place to start.” Well, they are indeed hit and miss, and I’m glad Peele took his directional debut in a different direction, although with sketches like “Alien Imposters” you can see the roots for “Get Out”. Check some of these sketches here:
What I liked. Jordan Peele is brave (or smart) enough in not trying to copy Spike Lee rather develop his own style. For whose who fear that “Get Out” is a full version grown out of scetches – no, it isn’t. The movie is very tense, even when nothing is happening and a scene is supposed to be easy-going, you can feel something heavy in the air. That’s good. Contrary to the sketches, the film maintains its minimalism till the very end, which will eventually bring us to a bloody and satisfying climax.
The performances are superb. Really. The cast made this movie. It’s the first feature film for Allison Williams (whose almost double-role performance reminded me Rosamund Pike). All the white cast of the movie matched exactly the tone of the movie. Maybe just Caleb Landry Jones tried too hard to create an updated version of Alex from “A Clockwork Orange”, but that’s a minor complaint. But who really brought everything to the next level is the black cast of the film, who had a very difficult role. Daniel Kaluuya, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson.
What I didn’t like. There were some occasional moments and secondary characters that at times felt little bit off the general mood of the film, but that’s a minor complaint.
Another thing that makes me somehow perplex about this movie is that I’m not sure I’d like to see again. I don’t really mean that it makes it a one-trick pony – of course no – but… that makes me feel strange.
The reception. “Get Out” will be remembered not only as one the best films of 2017, but one of the most successful debuts ever at least commercially. It’s one of dozen movies with a 99%/100% rating on RT basing on 280 reviews (!) and is currently ranked as 4th best movie EVER (!!!).
I would’t be that positive about this movie, but still. $4.5 mln budget vs $252 mln box office. That is very impressive for this kind of film. Long live, Jordan Peele and you new cinematic career. The movie was received very well by the public too. ”38% of the film’s opening weekend audience was African American, while 35% was white, with Georgia being its most profitable market”.
Of course, this kind of movie caused some controversies, but let me be honest – who gives a shit? Well, it was surprising to find out that some notable African American actors like Samuel L. Jackson (whom I deeply respect) do give a shit, criticizing that a British black actor was chosen for the main role.
“American brother … really feels that,” said Jackson. “Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years. What would a brother from America have made of that role?” Later Jackson clarified his comments, saying his target was the industry itself, and not his fellow black actors. “It was not a slam against them, but it was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes,” he told the Associated Press.
Now, I don’t live in the US, rather in a developed European country where most non-European immigrants are considered people of lower class (often due to their poor education and little willingness to adopt new customs). For me, films like these seem almost unique because they combine the entertaining element with an important social commentary. How many movies like that were made that are not historical dramas and can be viewed and understood by an average teenager? Heck, even if you don’t give a fuck about the racism, the film is just stunning to watch.
Some reviewers criticized the movie for a) portraying all white people in a bad light b) copying “The Stepford Wives” and several other movies. Both arguments are ridiculous, because almost every movie that is out is in some way resembling or copying some other movie. So let’s stop watching movies now? Copying and being inspired by are so different. Well… haters gonna hate, don’t they. Important movies like “The Stepford Wives”, ”Lobster” and ”Invasion of the Body Snatchers” have certainly a similar vein as ”Get Out”, but nobody isn’t copying anything here. I don’t see anything wrong with taking good ideas and making them shine in a new light.Worth watching? Yes. Whether you like or not the whole story (I’m pretty sure my grandma won’t like it), let’s face it – “Get Out” is almost an exemplary thriller with stunning photography, excellent acting and well-built tense pacing. I certainly discovered several names to follow, and Daniel Kaluuya proved once again that he can be just amazing. He expresses a whole array of emotions in a minimal and reserved way (although more expressive than in the Black Mirror episode he did) and that is always a sign of a big talent. I am pretty sure that ”Get Out” will be later found in various “best of 2017” lists. Not a total masterpiece, though, but it’s impressive film. Fresh and original.
“Get Out” is rare example of a film that successfully combines multiple genres, is striking both visually and technically despite being made on a shoestring budget. But what is most important is that this debut by Jordan Peele (who also has a mixed family background, his mother is white and his father is black), finally combines all these traits to tell a story that is so relevant for many people here, in our real world.
P. S. Here’s a funny parody trailer on the film, called, guess what, ”Get In”. Watch it only if you have seen the original movie though.