Get Out ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

The crowd-pleaser Cabin in the Woods should've been.

There's only one great performance here, and that's Kaluuya's expressive portrayal of Chris, a truly ordinary millennial. Kaluuya plays the role to a T, with a humored, half-pained politeness that crackles through despite an endless string of casually-racist remarks, and his presence is jarring against the campy world that he inhabits. His existence in an otherwise cliched and manufactured B-movie horror helps to ease the audience into the film's setting, and our collective ability to relate to Chris, placed against our inability to relate to the vanilla suburban white family and the bizarre Stepford-style worker bodies, provides us with a comfortable vehicle for suspending disbelief and being humoured by the film's overbearing racism.

Most of Get Out plays off as a very sharp and calculated Key and Peele sketch, which is to say that the film, particularly its script, has been wittled down to just the highlights. It hops from one humorous interaction to the next, and while it's not particularly realistic, Peele has had a lot of experience in making absurdist sketches. His controlled ascent into satire is graceful here, with a full dosage of overt stereotyping — for both white and black characters — and verbal nuggets — "black mold" — thrown around for efficient humor.

From a social commentator's perspective, it succeeds in some regards and fails disappointingly in others. It wins in its positive spin on the TSA, but loses in its stereotypical black-sidekick role. Whether or not the dichotomy between Chris and his enthusiastic friend was intended, I can't accept how useless Rod turned out to be in the grand scheme of things except as a comedic diversion.

And in the film's sudden shift from the white majority as misguided and ignorant to the willfully evil? Like the reveal at the end of Cabin in the Woods, I was more than a little disappointed. Though not as egregious as Cabin, it was an awkward shift that diluted the message and turned the last 30 minutes into a cliched action-horror romp. Its portrayal of the black man as the scared and degraded falls flat in its final, action-packed show of strength, and as it turns out, the whole black-body-snatcher ordeal was never really about the racial connotations in the first place. The film's main plot point would have worked equally well without the racial dagger, which is surprising given all the built-up setup and attention to it.

At some point during the film, it was apparent to me that Peele seemed torn between making a socially-aware racial comedy and making a legitimately-creepy action-horror, and in adhering to the latter, he made some sacrifices to the former. It's not a perfect film by any means, but taken apart from its socio-political message, the film works wonderfully as a very funny, very spooky genre blend. If you watch this with a crowd of people by your side, you'll have a raucously good time, and that's the best kind of movie experience.