MOVIE REVIEW: Get Out (Ray Bradbury Award Finalist)

written by David Steffen

Just a few days ago I reviewed most of the Ray Bradbury Award finalists (an award that is held alongside the Nebula Awards for movies), but I didn’t review Get Out because I hadn’t quite gotten a rental of it yet.  Just before the Nebula voting deadline, I’ve watched it and slipped in the review–the voting deadline is tonight!

Get Out is a thriller/horror film written by Jordan Peele and distributed by Universal.  It won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and was on the final ballot for Best Film of 2017.

Photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) reluctantly agrees to accompany his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) to her parent’s isolated rural estate.  Chris worries that her parents won’t be welcoming of a black man dating their white daughter.  He meets her neurosurgeon father Dean (Bradley Whitford) and hypnotherapist mother Missy (Catherine Keener) and brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), who all (unsurprisingly to Chris) make discomfiting comments about Black people.  There are a lot of things that are… off about the Armitages and what goes on on their property.  Their servants (both Black) (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel) are oddly intense and hostile toward him, and Missy repeatedly pushes Chris to let her hypnotize him out of his cigarette habit.  One night, when he comes back into the house after sneaking a smoke, Missy catches him alone and seems to hypnotize him, but he wakes up sure it was a dream.  The next day the Armitages have company, a yearly gathering of all their friends, and things only get weirder.

This is a hell of a movie.  Intense.  Very well written, and the actors are all incredible, often acting on at least two distinct levels–trying to put up a reasonable facade for their visitor while other odd behaviors slip through that front.  Even when nothing overtly scary is happening the sense of unease rarely leaves, only waxes and wanes as you try to figure out what is going on with these people.  Particularly great actors are the actors who played the servants, constantly showing these odd little behaviors, saying polite things with eyes and smiles a bit too wide.  And when the movie gets scary it gets Scary.  Not a lot of movies scare me, but this one genuinely had me on the edge of my seat, on an emotional ride with the characters, and not just depending on cheap jump-scares to manage it.  Not every moment of it is dark, there is comic offsets as well, especially from Chris’ friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) who he calls to talk about the weird stuff going on and Rod constantly throws out freaky theories about what’s going on and tells Chris to get out.

I barely watched this before the voting deadline, but this got my vote.