Is it a race thing, a hypnosis thing, or a garden party thing? Can it be a bit of all three? Where are you going to find a psychological thriller about cell phones that won’t charge, liberal families hosting regular garden parties for the deceased, and the cutest mop of a puppy spending the weekend with a TSA agent from Brooklyn? In an original screenplay, of course. Get Out invites you into the Armitage family home deep deep in the woods for a few days of nature walks, carrot cake, and a sealed room in the basement you don’t need to worry about.
What has the girlfriend gotten him into this time? Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is a little hesitant to follow his lady love, Rose (Allison Williams), home for the weekend. They’ve been dating for five months and it’s time to meet the family, but Rose failed to inform her parents that her boyfriend is a black man. Her defense: how do you broach a subject like that? “I started dating this guy. You’d love him. He’s into basketball, photography, and he’s black. See you Friday.” Chris admits he’s being paranoid and tosses his bag into the blood-red car. True to her promise, Rose’s parents don’t really care. Her father, Dean (Bradley Whitford), is the classic embarrassing Dad, while her mom, Missy (Catherine Keener), is a professional psychiatrist – you can trust her. The house servants, however, are another story. The groundskeeper and maid may be the only other dark faces in the neighbourhood, but they prefer to keep to themselves and do their work. Nothing to see here. Heads straight, eyes unblinking, ear-to-ear grins, and sprints through the woods at midnight; it’s just a classic weekend with the girlfriend and her parents. Here’s the kitchen, there’s the office, and that’s the room we’ve sealed off for reasons that don’t concern you — how about we check out the backyard sans neighbours look-at-how-private-this-place-is!
The fact is, Chris really does sound crazy. Rose stands up when she thinks Chris is being treated unfairly, and everyone knows her father would have voted for Obama a third time if he could. It’s just that the staff are a little… soulless. Oh, and the small fact that there are staff at all. Chris senses something’s up – regular human interactions feel a bit out of practice in these parts – but when he voices his feelings to Rose he really does sound crazy. While Get Out is more of a psychological thriller than a suspense, we still get that moment of, “Well if it were me…” I’d peace out as soon as they announced the garden party. Sorry to intrude, see you at Thanksgiving.
But hypnosis is a strong spell to break. Missy invites Chris to recount his tragic childhood, and before he knows it he’s trapped in the depths of his consciousness, able to see and hear but completely paralyzed. He screams and thrashes from far away, but Missy prefers to let him be and sort out his issues internally. The next thing Chris knows, he’s waking up in bed. That was weird. You and I are yelling, “Run you fool! Take your pretty girlfriend and run!” but Chris doesn’t want to be impolite. How many times do characters get strapped to gurneys in the basement because they didn’t want to be impolite?
Get Out has a touch of racism, a hint of family immodesty, and a heaping concussion of brainwashing. It goes the way you think it will go, until the Armitage family ponytails up and things get weird. Always bring a second set of car keys for your blood-red car just in case one pair gets lost or stolen by the in-laws that never want you to leave. Get Out tells the story from Chris’ perspective, so we discover all the little quirks as they come. Chris loves to hide behind his photographer’s eye, meaning sometimes things jump into focus, or creep out of the shadows, or disappear after a shutter snap. No ghosts here, just a weird family with a couple doctoral degrees and a side hobby of bingo in the backyard.
If you want something a little screwy but not quite as sleepless as Memento, then saunter over to Get Out. It pulls you in and keeps things interesting. Plus it’s a movie about racism that isn’t really about racism and has frequent comedic interludes from the inappropriate best friend. In short, Get Out is totally messed up, but sometimes you’re in the mood for just such a thing. It’s 7 inappropriate comments out of 10.