For the first half at least, Get Out, a satirical horror film from writer/director Jordan Peele, takes a nicely scathing look at racism lurking beneath the veneer of well-intended white middle class liberal elites. It has received sterling notices from the very audiences it is satirising, perhaps unsurprising given how much certain Guardian readers enjoy a spot of self-flagellation over their “privilege”, or whatever the heck people get their politically correct knickers in a twist over these days.
Photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is off for a meet-the-parents weekend with his rich girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams). He is nervous that she hasn’t informed her supposedly liberal parents that he is black, but she assures him that he has nothing to worry about. However, all manner of over-compensating awkward conversations ensue upon arrival, such as Rose’s father Dean (Bradley Whitford) telling Chris that he would have voted for Obama for a third term if he could have done. Furthermore, the presence of mysterious Stepford Wives-esque black servants on the extensive grounds of the family property also send audience alarm bells ringing immediately that something is most definitely rotten in Denmark.
The first hour cleverly builds the creepiness, throwing in some unsubtle but effective metaphors (a dead deer for instance). There are also some uncomfortable dinner party moments that weirdly reminded me both of the Extras episode with Samuel L Jackson, and also the Father Ted episode with Ted’s racial awareness presentation (his attempt at making amends after accidentally upsetting the Chinese community of Craggy Island) – both cringe-inducingly hilarious. There are also obvious nods to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Stepford Wives, and less obvious nods to the likes of Under the Skin and Gone with the Wind.
However, this is a horror film, and the satire of the first half gives way to some proper blood and guts in the second half (it’s also worth adding warnings for strong language). Here the film becomes a bit less interesting, although it is still entertaining and delivers the genre goods. There are a couple of good twists and turns that keep the audience on the wrong foot too.
In the end, this film perhaps isn’t quite as incendiary as has been claimed. However strong direction, performances, clever use of music and sound, and the wry embrace of its own credibility stretching plot holes make Get Out an agreeably merciless and satisfying experience for those with the stomach for it.