One of my favorite horror movies, nay, films period, is American Werewolf in London. Get Out shares its sensibility in its overt use of humor, using humor not simply as a means to ease the tension building in the narrative like the insertion of moments cribbed from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but deploying it deftly and weaving it into the cohesive whole. Like Landis, first time writer/director Jordan Peele (he of Key &), a hysterically funny man, keeps this absolutely genre-in-a-good-way picture on track without letting his comedian's proclivities take over. No small feat.
Like American Werewolf, for its horror plus humor bravura and especially for its groundbreaking special effects, and to some extent, The Blair Witch Project, for its lo-fi, lo-funded, found-footage, Internet marketing savvy, this movie is an inflection point event film that certainly horror aficionados need to see. Seems I'm saying 'run out to the theater now, you're missing out'. But I'm not saying that. You're not. Not really.
I really liked Get Out, and want to see it again (and again), but I didn't love it. Last year's The Invitation was better and so was The Witch and The Babadook before that. Commentators laud Peele's film for its daring. I guess it is daring by today's low standards in that he dares, has the temerity to deal with racism and prejudice unflinchingly straight on without reaching for low-hanging liberal-guilt fruit, without wallowing in PCness, without trying to make an ideological, "important" film. That's daring, I guess. I'd call it good, honest film-making that cares about aesthetics, atmosphere, tone, story, and trying to scare you. But I suppose within the film business, given how next-to-impossible it is to get anything made, it is daring.
But, is it any good?
Yes. It is good.
The tone was suspenseful, the narrative fresh. It felt different than anything I'd seen and I was relishing the moment--I was seeing something really good and really new; the hype was to be believed. However, like so many horror films, the final third of the film fell flat for me. The rote and the ham-handed started kicking in. I'd hoped for more, given how fascinating, assured, original, and gripping the set up.
Critics and such have analogized Get Out to Look Who's Coming to Dinner as strained through the lenses of The Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby. I think that's a good way to distill it. Peele loves horror, knows horror, knows how good and meaningful it can be, and it shows. The upshot is it’s cool, but not THAT cool, not enough to cause the movie world to comprehensively freak out as it seems to be doing.
You try to not set expectations before going into to a movie, but I have to say I was hoping for something more nuanced and deeply chilling, jagged, jarring, and unforgettable. This didn't quite do that, but it's much fun and it is a rather bold narrative, if not a little too snug with the residual Obama moment we live in. I still maintain: you want to see a scary movie predicated on race? 12 Years a Slave. I came out of that theater feeling like I'd just watched a horror film.