Stay on target This is the best movie that’s come out so far this year. Go see it.Get Out is a genuinely terrific film. I won’t say I’m totally surprised by that – the trailers all looked solid, and the premise is good enough that you kind of had to assume it’d at least be passable. But the notion that Get Out is Jordan Peele’s (or any director’s) debut feature film is unbelievable even when you know it to be an absolute fact. It’s so bold, vibrant, solidly-constructed and confident it just doesn’t feel possible that whoever made it hasn’t spent at least three or four previous films getting good at this stuff; and it holds up so damn well as a horror movie that making it “about” something almost feels like a free upgrade.Ideally, you’ll want to go into this one as spoiler-free as possible. But just from the trailers you already know that Get Out is supposed to be a horror movie “about racism” – but that’s something of a coy oversimplification. One of the most reliable ways to create a scary story is to identify familiar situations the audience can recognize usually causing someone to be uneasy, paranoid or even outright frightened. Like being lost, trying to navigate an unfamiliar area in the dark, sensing that someone is lying to you for an unknown reason, hearing noises when you thought you were alone, etc.makes. And then leading to audience to imagine a scenario where those feelings are entirely justified: You really are in danger, something really is out to get you, they are conspiring against you, etc.It’s a near-universal human truth that one of the scariest questions to find yourself asking is: “What if I’m not just being paranoid?” The cleverness of Get Out is recognizing that one of the main things make people act ill at ease, uncomfortable and thus susceptible to paranoia in 2017 is race. The bravery of the film, then, is deciding to build a whole horror film around the idea of racial tension as a surface-level manifestation of deeper, more sinister tension. But the genius of the film is that Peele and company then take that basic premise and decide to do something a little bit more thoughtful with it.Our setup: An ordinary guy named Chris is going to spend the weekend with his girlfriend Rose and her wealthy parents whom he’s meeting for the first time, and he’s on edge because she hasn’t yet told them that Chris is Black – which she assures him won’t matter but he knows will matter a quite a bit. Once there, things keep piling up (minor passive-aggression, odd behavior, incidental things that just don’t “add up”) that make him increasingly sure that he was right to be worried and soon enough that he might have stumbled into a genuinely dangerous situation involving secret meetings, hypnosis, other Black characters who seem “not quite right” – until he comes to realize it’s in his best interest to, well… “Get Out!”But here’s where this get’s interesting: To be frank; a genuine, unapologetic Black perspective is so seldom presented in the horror genre especially that if all this film had on its mind was giving Peele a venue to explore his feelings through the prism of genre and, well… vent on the subject of “Hey! Y’know, White people? Sometimes, you can be kind of scary!” it’d still be pretty damn refreshing just for being something different. But Get Out clearly doesn’t want to settle for being a novelty item: It wants to really work as a serious thriller – which ends up meaning that it has to approach the subject of racism-as-horror from a more subtle, unnerving angle.The thing is, Hollywood actually likes making movies about racism – especially movies about really obvious racism practiced in the past or by blatant, proudly-ignorant, outright KKK types. It’s a lot less fond of tackling the more subdued, ingrained, passive varieties of racism… you know, the kind that upscale, well-meaning, “good” White people (like, say, maybe Hollywood movie executives) who otherwise pride themselves on not being like “those other White people” or “back then” might recognize themselves in and be made uncomfortable. And that is precisely the spot where Get Out decides to plant its flag – because it kind of has to.After all: If Chris walked into Rose’s parents’ house and they had a Confederate Flag (or Swastika) up on the wall – maybe some white hoods or “Make America Great Again” merchandise? There’d be no suspense or tension to be built up there! He’d immediately know “Oh! These are scary racist bad guys – I gotta get outta here!” So what Get Out presents us with instead are the precisely the sort of nice, worldly, enthusiastically Liberal “good” White people who present themselves as the furthest possible thing from racist.In fact, they can’t wait to tell Chris about how they voted for Obama, how much they respect and appreciate his culture, how all their favorite actors, musicians, and athletes are Black. And how “cool” and “fashionable” and in many ways “better” they consider Black people to be – the sort of stuff that (if presented sincerely) would be intended as “nice” and “progressive” without even considering that it’s still reducing him to a color instead of a person. That’s an experience that one imagines a lot of Get Out’s audience is going to find depressingly familiar, which is why it makes such a perfect foundation for the more conventional horror elements that gradually emerge as the invisible walls of “something ain’t right here” start closing in around Chris. And while you might think you’ve already figured out what’s probably going on… like I said, this is a movie about defying expectations.And again – while it’s giving you all this nice, deep extra material to think about; Get Out never stops working as a viscerally effective thriller on a pure technical level. It’s unquestionably the best use of this setup since the original Stepford Wives – but whereas that film (justly considered a 70s classic though it may be) loses a step or two once we get the big reveal of what’s going on; Get Out takes off like a shot and somehow becomes just as good at being a straightforward survive-the-bad-guys horror flick as it was at being a topical suspense movie.There are a dozen places where this could’ve all gone wrong and fallen apart, but Peele has clearly shown up to play, and he’s delivered one of the record books – and instant horror classic and the first must-see film of 2017. MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’
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