Tropic Sprockets Goes Streaming / Get Out

By Ian Brockway

Comedian Jordan Peele, half of the Key and Peele duo on Comedy Central, has directed a horror film titled “Get Out” that is as surprising and original as it is entertaining. The genre of horror is not so far-fetched for the comedian as it first seems. From the sweet old lady in “Rosemary’s Baby” to the hyperactive hitchhiker in “A Texas Chainsaw Massacre” comic touches are frequently used in horror. Both genres are designed to astonish and disarm us and both are subversive, pushing audiences to new ways of seeing.

This debut film begins with a collegiate black man seemingly lost in an upper middle class neighborhood, late for a date. Shockingly he is subdued and thrown in a truck unconscious or dead. This scene alone is as jolting as anything by director John Carpenter. Then we focus on an interracial couple, Chris and Rose, very much in love (played by Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams), in a spacious apartment discussing the possibility of parental racism in regard to a first dinner.

“I would have told you,” Rose says, “my dad would have voted for Obama a third time.”

Well then, what on earth could go wrong?

The two hit the road to meet Rose’s parents. The next shock occurs when a distracted Rose hits a deer with a percussive bang. The police stop them and Chris is unfairly asked for identification. This quick scene is masterful for producing a restlessness, putting us in the place of this young man, where irrationality rules.

Reaching their destination, they are warmly welcomed by Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) Rose’s parents and upper middle class liberals who appear to project most everything positively, having all within easy reach. Dean, a neurosurgeon, has an affected lopping gait as if he is perpetually leaving an exquisite brunch. Nattily dressed with cute black glasses, he enthusiastically recalls his travels and family. “My father almost beat Jessie Owens,” he states cheerfully. Missy lurks in the background, a half-caricature of a sweet mom always ready to offer a compassionate and observant ear.

What follows is a series of awkward questions about romance, followed by a very weird dinner encounter with a wobbling and pasty-faced man (Caleb Landry Jones) who is Rose’s brother.

Chris doesn’t know what he’s in for and neither do we.

A creepy party scene with echoes of “The Stepford Wives” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” will definitely stop your breath. Suffice to say, in the words of Jim Morrison, people are strange.

Allison Williams shines in her first film role as a sensitive, yet glibly honest romantic.

In the midst of all, actor Lil Ril Howery as Chris’s loyal friend, will have you roaring with laughter, giving healthy doses of comic relief.

“Get Out” succeeds and then some with daring force, chock full of pointed and playful surprise. It is the first horror film that I can tell that is suffused with racial problems, covering everything from discrimination by police and arrogant assumptions to the shallow and silly things some white people have been known to ask during a cocktail party.

If by chance, Missy offers you tea it is best to politely decline, otherwise you might find yourself at the center of some unwanted attention.

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