Jordan Peele‘s Get Out, which I saw in the Grove yesterday afternoon, deserves points for blending racial satire with a current of Stepford Wives-like horror, and particularly for the low-key restraint that Peele deals during the first 45 minutes or so.
But while I respect the audacity behind (as Armond White has pointed out) a mix of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Meet The Fockers with B-level horror, I found what Peele is saying about Obama-era relationships between upscale blacks and whites to be easy and specious. Plus I was seriously disappointed by the standard-issue blood-and-brutality chops during the last half-hour, not to mention Peele’s complete indifference to logic and consequences at the final fade-out.
The critics who’ve gone hog-wild over the racial-anxiety-meets-horror concept have overplayed their hand. They’re singing praises from their own p.c. echo chamber partly because — wait for it — the director-writer and the good-looking, smooth-cat hero Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) are African-American, and because the 2017 Film Critic’s P.C. Handbook absolutely forbids dissing or even questioning any kind of subversive genre-bender of this type.
The truth is that Get Out starts well, slowly building on the intrigue and intimations of bad stuff to come, but it gradually devolves the more the horror elements take hold. It’s just not that clever or well thought-out.
SPOILER: Peele’s central idea is that good white liberals (i.e., the kind who “would’ve voted for Obama a third time if we could’ve,” as Bradley Whitford‘s Dean Armitage, the father of Kaluuya’s girlfriend Rose, says early on) are liars — they’re just as racist as any rural Trump fan but with the ability to hide behind a facade of gracious, laid-back behavior. Moreover, their goal is to de-ball blacks who mix them with them socially and politically, and so blacks who ingratiate themselves with allegedly enlightened whites are being hoodwinked and led astray.
Peele isn’t exactly expressing a philosophy of black separatism, but he’s obviously saying “watch out for upscale whiteys…they ain’t on our team.” All of Get Out‘s horror and mayhem stems from this basic viewpoint.
The cheering of Get Out by big-wheel critics is a way for them to say “we get it!…we’re not only beyond all that racially-antsy, liberal self-deception stuff, but we’ve enthusiastically embraced Get Out in the same way some of us leapt to our feet and cheered The Birth of a Nation 13 months ago at Sundance…we’re so perceptive and post-racial!
Also: “The vaguely patronizing racial attitudes of older liberals are skin-deep if that, and so we’re in league with guys like Chris and especially his good friend Rod (Lil Rey Howery, the most winning character in the film), and so in honor of that we’re going easy on all the things in Get Out that are familiar or hokey or poorly written or unimaginative.”
The National Review‘s Armond White is regarded as a conservative troll, but his remark about Get Out being “tailored to please the liberal status quo” is 100% dead-on.
The bottom line is that while I was roused by Chris’s ability to outsmart and overcome the wealthy family of his white-ass girlfriend (played by Allison Williams, the daughter of Brian Williams) and I loved Rod’s save-the-day entrance at the finale, I knew I had basically seen a film that’s more interesting for its concept than execution. I knew I had seen just another B-level horror flick with a twist, and I certainly didn’t feel like jumping up and down.
Get Out uses a low-rent special effect three times to convey Chris’s feeling of being forcefully hypnotized (i.e., floating in space in front of a small vision window), and I can’t overly emphasize how disappointing this felt to me. Roman Polanski would have never touched this idea with a 20-foot pole.
Catherine Keener, as Rose’s mom, delivers the creepiest performance of all. Not too showy or extreme — just the right tone of maternal malice.
Caleb Landry Jones, who plays Rose’s psychotic younger brother, gets my nomination as one of the most repulsively mannered actors of the 21st Century. Less than 45 seconds after he made his entrance I was screaming to myself “get this muttering, self-obsessed showoff out of the movie…I’m understanding 15% of his dialogue…give him the hook…awful!”
Question for anyone who’s seen Get Out: Chris makes it out alive, great, but how is he going to explain himself to authorities once they inevitably knock on his door? Even with the demonic implications of the downstairs surgery room and whatnot, the initial conclusion of any cop or prosecutor is that Chris slaughtered the family and the servants single-handedly. He’s clearly facing a heap of trouble. At the very least Peele should have grappled with this, and perhaps even added an extra act in order to tie up loose ends.
By the way: I lost my fucking keys somewhere between the outdoor Grove parking lot and the movie theatre, which enraged me to no end.