Get Out review: by Rob Stoakes
UK certification: 15
Social horror is a dying genre, and no it’s not how I feel when I awkwardly try to interact with other human beings. No, horror where the scary aspect comes from or inspired by a societal issue. When communism was about there were tonnes of them, like The Thing, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and any of George Romero’s films.
Now, though, it seems like when the Berlin Wall fell it took this subgenre with it, and now all we have is that rubbish Straw Dogs remake and A Serbian Film, where the commentary on nationalism and European film culture is kind of hard to focus on when the main character puts his <censored> in the <censored> drugged while his son’s <censored> with an eye socket. Also, really cool beards. However, the genre could rise again like the undead, at least if we get some more films as good as Get Out.
The premise for Get Out is brilliant. A young man goes to meet his girlfriend’s rich parents and is worried about the fact that she’s not told them that he’s black. From there, the film basically asks the question “what if all of your paranoia about meeting your significant other’s in-laws was entirely justified?” and it wickedly piles on the tension throughout the film without explicitly saying what’s actually happening until the very end.
And part of what reinforces that idea is the style of horror itself. It starts out like a retro throwback, with references galore to Wait until Dark and Halloween, a deliberately old-fashioned font style and set design, and a soundtrack that’s got actual instruments rather than the 50 millionth modern horror soundtrack that’s just a low unending hum or a series of high pitched wails.
But just as the main character discovers that something much more sinister and weird is going on, the film’s tone shifts violently to something much more ethereal and weird, and it becomes more like a mashup between Twin Peaks, Under the Skin and an episode of Homes under the Hammer set inside Wes Anderson’s nightmares.
Most of the performances are great, too. Daniel Kaluuya’s star feels like it should have risen long ago but given that this is his first role exposed to a US audience it says a lot that you can’t even tell he’s actually British. In addition, Alison Williams has a lot of brilliant subtlety as his girlfriend.
If there’s a weak link amongst the acting it’s most of the villains, whose every line of dialogue sounds like “Hello, I’m your bad guy for the evening, come into my bad guy house, have some bad guy food, lovely bad guy weather we’re having, isn’t it?”
The villains aren’t the only problem with the film either. For one, it manages to be very tense and nerve-wracking but it rarely gets truly frightening in the same way Under the Skin did. It can also be a bit blunt force trauma with the symbolism at times, too. One of the characters talks about how all deers are just an infestation and should die, and you get the feeling that the films whispering “Geddit, eh, eh, geddit? Coz they’re racist, yeah?”
Actually, that’s not strictly true and does lead me to probably the best part of the film; the script. It’s a horror film about racism would be the obvious option, but if Get Out is one thing, it’s not obvious. It always takes the smarter, stranger and, most importantly, scarier option, and the idea of these people simply being racist peels away to turn out to be something somehow even more sinister. It’s a shame that we only get one good horror film a year now, but damn if this is a good one for this year. Don’t miss it.
Budget: $5 million/Music: Michael Abels/Length: 104 minutes
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