Horror and comedy are often difficult bedfellows, but when writers and directors get it right, such as they did with Scream, Slither and Adam Wingard’s The Guest, the results can be outstanding.
Get Out is not an exception. Written and directed by one half of American comedy duo Key and Peele – I’ve never seen their program so I can’t comment, but a friend assures me it is hilarious – Jordan Peele here ensures that, tonally, the film is bang on the button. In other words when the film wants to be funny, it is hysterically funny. When it wants to be tense and scary, it is absolutely terrifying.
As per usual only a scant plot overview will be given here in that the film is like a ramped up horror remake of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? crossed with The Stepford Wives when young Black American man (utterly convincingly played by rising British star Daniel Kaluuya) is invited to his White, affluent all-American Daddy’s Girl’s parental home in upstate New York to meet her parents.
What starts out friendly and innocent enough soon lulls the protagonist (Chris) and the audience into a false sense of security as it gradually becomes patently obvious that there is something very weird indeed going on (hint: listen VERY carefully to the banal small talk). This is one of the film’s best strengths in delivering a terrifying slow-burn horror (like all the best: The Exorcist, The Descent, The Thing, Inside) that absolutely refuses to reveal its hand until well into the film, prolonged to agonising extent for maximum tension.
Everything about this film is so brilliantly wrong – the gardener’s laugh, the Housemaid’s permanent smile, even the way the Mother stirs her tea (creating the tensest tea-cup scene since Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America) – creating an almost subliminal air of menace that you really can’t put your finger on.
To say too much of course would be to give the fun away, but what I will say is that an instant horror classic has been created that is just a joy to watch and will definitely be enriched by repeat viewings. Not only that, the film really has some important social commentary about what it means to be young and Black in modern-day, picket-fence White America.
The twist is not entirely difficult to spot but the sheer craft of the film-making here means the journey is definitely worth the ride. Special mention also to LilRel Howery as best friend Rod, who gladly relieves the film’s nail-bitingly tense scenes with scene after scene of hysterically funny bile-spouting about his friend’s unfortunate and mystifying situation.
Easily one of the best horror debuts in years, this is a cereberally challenging (in more ways than one), horrifying and brilliantly originally horror-thriller, that also just happens to be hysterically funny. Utterly brilliant and well worth a trip to the cinema for.
You’ll never look at ‘Run, Rabbit, Run’ in the same way again.