Writer director Jordan Peele’s latest teen horror, Get Out, certainly ticks all the boxes for the genre. Good looking, young, sexy lead couple: check. Embarrassingly friendly olds: check. Perfectly innocent setting where things are not quite what they seem: check. Mobile phone that mysteriously stops working, cutting off the victim: check. Final act that gets royally carried away in a total bloodbath: check.
I was perhaps the only one in the audience old enough to be reminded of the 1989 horror, Society, though I’m sure that the presence of West Wing’s Bradley Whitford will have put many in mind of Joss Whedon’s clever, Cabin in the Woods. This is a film that knows its audience well and provides just the right blends of jump shocks, sinister tension and final gore to keep them happy, while staying on the right side of the BBFC to earn that all-important 15 certificate.
Get Out is a smart film, which rewards you for joining the dots and working out what’s really going on. In fact, the clues are there for all to see right from the start, and if you catch on late, as I did, you’ll kick yourself for not spotting them sooner.
Much has been said about the race themes of this film, but I’m not sure that these are all that relevant to the plot. True, the victim(s) are black and the bad guys are white. However, these are the kind of moneyed, society white people who think that anyone who is not part of their inner circle is theirs to use and exploit, black or white, male or female. As a satire on class and the pretensions of privilege, it certainly has a thing or two to say, but I didn’t see the race messages other critics have seen. If anything, the ultimate fate of the victims says that the white guys have no problem with being black.
Of course, you don’t have to see anything deep or meaningful in Get Out to enjoy the film. This is not brain surgery, well, ok, strictly speaking… but as teen horror goes it does exactly what it says on the tin, providing you with an hour and three quarters of great entertainment value for your ticket money.
If you want to analyse it more, and look for the ‘social thriller’ that the director describes, or the ‘piercing satire’ that Mark Kermode found, then that is there too. The point is that unlike some films, like Ben Wheatley’s High Rise for example, this level of engagement is entirely optional. If you just want to take your boyfriend/girlfriend to scream and cringe at the blood and guts on date night, then you won’t feel like you’re missing out by not engaging in the wider themes.
Of course, I could be wrong; Get Out could be the timely, thought provoking twist on ‘post-racial’ America that the internet would have us believe. Either way, it’s well worth the time and effort, and whatever level you decide to enjoy it on, you’ll Get Out what you put in.