FIRST-time director Jordan Peele’s darkly comic horror story will have your body squirming in its seat while your eyes are locked to the big screen.
Get Out! is like Meet the Parents combined with The Stepford Wives with a large pinch of racial tension thrown in.
We meet nervous photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuja, pictured above) as he packs to accompany girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) for on his first weekend visit to her parent's house.
“Do they know I’m black?” he asks, admitting to no little anxiety about his race being an issue.
As it turns out, their different backgrounds are pivotal, but not quite in the way he or we suspect.
On arrival at the remote, lavish family estate, Chris is more than a little freaked out by how uber-friendly Rose’s neurosurgeon dad (Bradley Whitford) and psychiatrist mum (Catherine Keener) are, not least when they, along with the guests (almost all-white) who turn up for a garden party the following day, keep emphasising their perceived benefits of Chris’ race.
Rose’s brother (Caleb Landry Jones) has already referred to the potential of Chris’ “genetic make-up” and her dad has hailed 1936 Olympic sprinting champ Jesse Owens when one guest notes how being black is “so fashionable these days”.
As if Chris wasn’t already on edge thanks to the bizarre behaviour of the two near-silent family servants (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel), both of whom are black, and the fact he thinks he may have been terrifyingly hypnotised by Rose’s mum (he has).
By the time Chris is asked by one how he is finding “the African-American experience”, it's pretty clear he’s is right to be eyeing the exit, a conviction which is solidified when the lone other black party guest, an oddly-dressed, strangely-passive figure, urges him to “Get Out!”
This is unquestionably a powerful social commentary about racial perceptions but it’s also a highly effective chiller and pays due homage to the conventions of the genre.
Remote location: check. Outwardly normal but patently odd characters: check. Creeping sense of foreboding: check. Long silences punctuated by shrill "jumps": check (you get my drift).
Kaluuja is pitch perfect as the house guest desperately trying to maintain politeness and downplay his fear in the face of overwhelming evidence that all is not well, while those playing the rest of the family and hangers-on ably tread the unsettling line between polite and downright creepy.
LilRel Howery as Rod, the mate back home fearing the worst, injects some much needed levity to proceedings and enjoys most of the film's best lines.
For a rookie director, Peele is admirably at home making good use of extreme close-up, zeroing in on tiny details which may or may not prove vital and, crucially, using incidental music to such excellent effect it is almost a character in its own right.
The third act is one of broad brush strokes of blood, mayhem and panic which left me transfixed, proving Peele is as comfortable with shock and gore as he is finding the awkward and uncomfortable in the apparently mundane.
Gripping, grisly and at times gruelling, Get Out is a great new addition to the horror catalogue.