In theory, horror and comedy sit on completely opposite ends of the film spectrum — two distant cousins with acutely different intentions. Yet Jordan Peele proves the tactics involved in writing for a laugh and writing for a scare are almost one and the same.
Get Out, Peele’s latest project, is not what many would expect. The comedic sketch show Peele wrote and starred in alongside comedian Keegan-Michael Key, Key and Peele, proved a defining point in Peele’s career by cementing him as one of Hollywood’s best comedic writers and performers.
But don’t be fooled. Get Out isn’t a horror parody. Not even close.
The film follows a mixed race couple, Rose (Allison Williams) and Chris (Daniel Kaluuya). Chris is nervous about the prospect of traveling to a remote part of town to stay with Rose’s family for the weekend and specifically worries about their reaction to the reality of their daughter dating a black man. Rose is blasé about Chris’ worries, assuring him her family would never judge on the basis of race. In fact, her dad “would’ve voted for Obama for a third time if he could’ve.” Willing to forgo his worries in favor of pleasing his girlfriend, Chris packs a bag and leaves his friend Rod (Milton “Lil Rel” Howery) to take care of his dog. Soon surrounded by a mob of the most distressingly white people imaginable, Chris begins to fall deeper and deeper into a state of paranoia over the suspicion he’s not wanted there and that he’s in grave danger. He’s right.
Though it has its funny moments, Get Out is a scream-inducing, goosebump-prompting, shivers-down-your-spine horror thriller. It’s an engaging and didactic portrayal of modern-day race relations and the very real fears many have to bear.
Peele dissects the aggravating ordeal of being a black man among racist white company and turns this theme into a legitimate macabre nightmare. He writes scenes that invoke visceral empathetic reactions. The title is no coincidence; Peele is working to get viewers screaming, “Get out!” at the screen to the deaf ears of the film’s hapless protagonist. It’s an enthralling thrill ride that only gets faster.
Williams and Kaluuya both prove perfect fits for their roles, but one of the best performances comes from Howery, who is responsible for a lot of the film’s comedic relief. Howery’s character works remotely to solve the mystery of his friend’s disappearance, a brilliant plot device. The comedic asides give just enough time for the viewer to calm down before they’re transported back into a unique house of horrors, the appearance of which could have been ripped straight from a Vineyard Vines catalog.
Get Out is at home among the library of horror classics but brings with it game-changing nuance. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, anticipating the evil that surely lurks just beneath the surface.