It was about 50 years ago that “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was considered well ahead of its time in its depiction of interracial love. Decades later, a movie like “Get Out” makes a counterpoint that’s… well, hard to ignore.
If you go...
“Get Out,” rated R
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Running time: 103 minutes
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.
There comes a time in nearly every relationship that’s unavoidable — meeting the parents. New York City photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is about to go through this time-honored tradition with his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) with a weekend trip upstate, an experience he expects to a little more awkward since she hasn’t told her folks he’s African-American.
Despite his initial unease, Rose’s well-off parents, Dean and Missy (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener), are more than welcoming of their potential son-in-law. Still, Chris can’t help but be unnerved by some of the other inhabitants of the family estate, such as Rose’s aggressive brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) or the hired help (Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson) who seem just a bit off in their behavior.
As the weekend continues, it isn’t long before Chris’s encounters with the family and friends turn from just mildly uncomfortable to downright alarming, though he remains unsure if he really has a cause for concern or if he’s just being paranoid.
Kaluuya doesn’t make a false move as Chris, an average guy who manages to represent every young black male in a society that claims not to see color but all too often doesn’t follow through on that platitude.
As you’d expect, it’s Williams — who changes little from her usual showing on “Girls” — who’s the one to cry racism at every turn and assuage her boyfriend that it’s all in his head.
Technically that’s true, though not why you’d expect.
Whitford is great as a bend-over-backward dad who wants to show he’s down with Rose’s new beau, though it’s Keener who makes the most of her minimal screen time as a psychiatrist with a knack for hypnosis who wastes no time showing Chris her talents.
If you’re looking for a way to quit smoking, try Nicorette before you schedule an appointment with Missy.
Like a lot of the best horror films, the tension in this feature can be so extreme you don’t know whether to gasp or giggle, and at least in this case, both are appropriate.
Comedian Jordan Peele’s first time behind the camera is one that straddles the line between sharp satire and successful suspense, the difference coming down to sound. A laugh track would almost work as well as the intentionally overdone musical stings that underscore Chris’s time in the country.
It doesn’t take a blockbuster bankroll to get people disturbed, and that’s especially evident with a low-budget limbo known as “The Sunken Place,” which would be hilarious if it weren’t terrifying.
One would imagine Peele initially envisioned this as a comedy sketch, particularly during garden party scenes wherein Chris is subjected to a yard full of friendly white folks who talk to him like they’ve never met a black person before.
Yep, how ‘bout that Tiger Woods?
Peele taps into the benign, everyday exchanges that no doubt make the black community roll their eyes, and it’s here where he thrives, not only crafting something that’s insightful but also turning it into a nerve-wracking affair with a framing that makes the hairs on your neck stand on end.
It’s when he goes full-bore horror that he starts to lose control, though it’s an ambitious, almost outrageous climax to which he’s building. Some plot points here and there could be trimmed, yet it all works well with an emotional resonance added to characters that already feel entirely real, painfully so in some cases.
Maybe it’s because it was made by a funnyman or because its subject matter is so timely, but “Get Out” is one of those rare horror films that transcends any one genre and also manages to speak to multiple target audiences, faults and all.
If you’re not feeling a reaction of some kind, maybe you’re just floating through the Sunken Place…
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.