This American horror film has more fun playing with racial tensions than with scaring us to death, which for some will be a bit of a letdown. The problem with ‘Get Out’ is that it is perhaps a touch too in love with its big idea: that for a young African American man, meeting your white girlfriend’s parents might be hazardous to your health. (Even if they do say that they ‘would have voted for Obama a third time’).
Serious young photographer Chris (British actor Daniel Kaluuya), clearly adores Rose (Allison Williams, Marnie from ‘Girls’). Still, their trip out of the city to her family’s secluded mansion in the suburbs fills him with dread. That deer they crash into on the drive up doesn’t help Chris’s fraying nerves – and the way the animal stares him down during its last gasps feels like a warning.
‘Get Out’ is sharp and cutting during its build-up. Rose’s parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) are awkwardly ingratiating, making a comic meal out of white liberal privilege (‘Hug me, my man!’ Rose’s neurosurgeon dad exclaims meeting Chris). Meanwhile, the family’s black servants disquietingly look on like wide-eyed zombies.
The writer-director of ‘Get Out’ is Jordan Peele, one half of the defunct Comedy Central show ‘Key & Peele’. While you can’t help but cheer his debut film’s ambitions, the discipline he found in skit-writing is lost here. Many of the brightest moments in ‘Key & Peele’ were miniature nightmares in themselves – like their classic sketch ‘Continental Breakfast’, a ‘Shining’ parody. ‘Get Out’, on the other hand, reveals its dirty little secret a bit too broadly. Still, Peel deserves another shot to get it perfect.