Blu-ray Review: Get Out

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Writer-director Jordan Peele crafts an instant classic with the darkly comedic horror film Get Out. Newly available on Blu-ray, Get Out supercharged the 2017 late-winter box office, a season typically known as the doldrums. Produced for a modest $4.5 million, the disturbing film raked in $175 million domestically. The amazing thing is that Get Out transcends the horror genre, qualifying as social satire. Though Peele takes a few minor missteps in the third act (more on that later), his bracing directorial debut is riveting and unforgettable.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) are about to hit the road. Rose will be introducing Chris to her parents at their sprawling home. Rose is white, Chris is black. Chris wants to know if she has informed her folks about this fact, in order to sidestep any potentially awkward surprises. But Rose is steadfast in her insistence that her parents are progressive-thinking non-racists. Chris takes Rose's "color blind" idealism with a grain of salt. A lifetime of being prejudged by many members of America's racial majority has left him quietly aware that sometimes the most ardent "non-racists" are, at the very least, casually bigoted. 

rsz_get_out_feat.jpg At first blush, that's how Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) Armitage come across. "How long has this been going on, this... thang?" asks Dean, immediately establishing an uncomfortably condescending atmosphere. As he shows Chris around his unsettlingly plantation-like estate, Dean proudly proclaims he'd have "voted for Obama for a third term." This, despite the fact that the Armitages employ bizarrely robotic African American servants. Daniel Kaluuya expertly conveys Chris' growing suspicions (Kaluuya's performance is certainly award-worthy). Rose seems oblivious to his concerns, even as an annual gathering of Armitage friends leads to more bald-faced racism (one older lady asks Rose, suggestively, "Is it true? Is it really better?").

All of this arguably pales in comparison to Missy's attempts to hypnotize Chris (she's a professional). Ostensibly upset over Chris' smoking habit, Missy winds up plumbing the darkest depths of his psyche during deep hypnosis. Where it's all heading is supremely queasy. Not to venture too far into spoiler territory, let's just say that the big third act reveal pushes a bit too far into conventional horror movie tropes. No fair giving anything away, but the blood'n'gore stuff feels unsatisfying and ordinary as a climax to the truly bizarre behavior on display for the first two-thirds. Chris' friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), who works for the TSA, serves the dual purpose of comic relief and plot device. The former elements feel out of place (especially at the conclusion), while the latter aspect demonstrates how Peele painted himself into a corner somewhat. 
 
rsz_get_out_armitage.jpg The ending is likely to be better received by those looking for standard horror. Get Out more than passes muster in that regard. It's the exploration of White America's tendency toward cultural appropriation that makes the movie stick. As if white privilege wasn't enough, the friends and associates of Mr. and Mrs. Armitage want to dominate blacks in a way unheard of since the days of slavery. Much of Get Out plays like an excellent Twilight Zone episode, creating a surreal world in which Chris (and the film's other black characters) are viewed not as complete humans, but as physically superior beings that lack minds of their own. The more disturbing, allegorical aspects of the film will provoke much thought and discussion among viewers. 
 
rsz_get_out_bd.jpg Universal's Blu-ray offers a decent array of special features, led by writer-director Jordan Peele's commentary. An alternate ending takes a darker turn than the theatrical. Deleted scenes (23 minutes) aren't particularly enlightening, especially a series of six variations on the film's ending. It's a tedious run of comedic variations on the ending actually used in the film (highlighting why the darker "alternate ending" is stronger). "Unveiling the Horror of Get Out" is a nine minute EPK-style 'making of' featurette. "Q&A Discussion with Writer/Director Jordan Peele and the Cast" is as brief (five minutes) as it is self-explanatory.

Get Out is a must-see that establishes Jordan Peele as a provocative, daring filmmaker.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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