Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Get Out Review

From the mind of Jordan Peele, half of the comedy sketch duo of Key and Peele, comes a horror movie with a touch of comedy and a lot of social commentary. When the first trailer for this movie came out, I was dumbfounded. And not in a good way. I thought it looked like one of the worst horror movies made in a long time. In fact, I confidently put it in the bad section of my 2017 preview at the beginning of the year. As it turns out, it was thrown into Sundance at the end of January and it left there with a perfect 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. That floored me. But OK. The Sundance crowd loved it. That sometimes means nothing. I mean, they gave "The Birth of a Nation" a round of applause... BEFORE the screening happened. They sometimes get clingy for political reasons and not movie reasons. We'll get to that more in a bit. But then it hit normal theaters and through a whole weekend it STAYED at 100 percent. With over 130 reviews. Say what? Yeah, as it turns out, that first trailer was simply a horribly put together trailer for a pretty good horror movie. They literally throw together every part of the movie into the trailer in a choppy, nonsensical way. Fail. But that happens. That's why you should never skip a movie based solely on the trailers because it might be good.

Before we dive into this movie, let's discuss this Rotten Tomatoes score. For a while it stayed at that 100 percent mark, which is insane for any movie. Armond White from the National Review finally gave the movie its first negative review, but that means the movie currently stands at a 99 percent with 144 reviews counted as of the publishing of this review. That would qualify it as one of the best reviewed horror movies EVER. Is it that good? No, it's not. But I'm not going to say I was disappointed going into the movie because I didn't have the expectation that it would be that good. I just figured that there was something a bit off with the critics this time around. As a comparison, two of the best modern horror movies in my opinion are "The Witch" and "The Babadook." "The Witch" has a 91 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes while "The Babadook" has a 98 percent score. It's a crime against humanity that "Get Out" has a better score. A better comparison for "Get Out" in my humble opinion is "Don't Breathe," which has a 87 percent, and "Lights Out," which has a 76 percent. That's the type of horror movie you're getting here with "Get Out." And I liked both of those movies, so that's not a bad thing. I'm just saying you should go in with the right expectations.

Why is it that "Get Out" is all the way up at 99 percent? Well, I can't speak for others, but my personal opinion is that it's because of the premise. "Get Out" is about an interracial couple where a white girl is taking her black boyfriend to meet her parents for the first time. "They're not racist," the girl promises when the boyfriend asks if she's told her parents that he's black. Well it turns out that they kind of are. But not outright blatantly racist. They don't think they're racist, but they naturally treat him a bit differently than they would've if he was white. In a private conversation after the initial meeting, he essentially tells her, "I told you so." And she feels awful, but he does his best to not make it a huge deal. Racism does exist in our day, but they type of racism that exists is not necessarily the type of racism that existed in the 1800's or even the 1950's. It's the type of racism that exists in this movie, which is why this movie provides an excellent social commentary and because of that I think that many critics are afraid to give this movie a bad review when they normally would with this type of movie. They don't want to be called racist because in our day a bad review of this movie would get them that title with how this movie goes about discussing racism.

I definitely have to give props to this movie for doing this in such an honest, straightforward way. It becomes a relevant movie. Black people have watched this movie and felt like it was telling the story of their life in certain scenes. Thus if you are not black, you can watch this movie and get a taste of what they are going through on a daily basis. I have a huge appreciation for what this movie accomplishes. But I'm not going to automatically label this as the best horror movie ever because it got the politics right. It needs to hold up to horror standards for me to label it as the best horror movie ever. I judge the movie, not the politics. And as a movie, this doesn't hold up to the standard of a horror classic. But this does a good enough job for me to praise it as a good horror movie, much like I did "Lights Out" and "Don't Breathe." Both of those movies I was able to point out plenty of flaws with the movie, but I had a good enough time with them to give them high recommendations. And I will also say this is a super impressive directorial debut for Jordan Peele. It's one thing to go from comedy to drama in the acting realm. It's another thing to go from comedic actor to horror director. That tells me that Mr. Peele has a great career ahead of him in various genres and film roles.

There's a lot of things that this movie does right and a few things that it does less right. Sadly I'm not going to dive super deep into this because it's the type of movie that requires a spoiler review to do so. I did that earlier this year with M. Night Shyamalan's "Split," which I didn't use in my comparisons because I consider "Split" more of a psychological thriller than a horror. What's the difference between the two genres? That's a good question. I'm not the best at defining it in words. It's one of those things where I know it when I see it even if I can't explain it in words. But "Get Out" is definitely horror. And it's the type of horror where the less you know going in, the better your experience is going to be. If I dive deep into my feelings, that's going to take something away from your experience. And I don't think it's quite good enough or trippy enough to warrant a spoiler review. So I'm going to dance around a bit for the rest of this review, giving general statements that do my opinion justice without giving things away. One thing I will say right off the bat is that this does creepy really well. There's a ton of setup before we dive into the meat of the problem, and that setup is dang good. We get subtle hints that something is up that slowly decrease the comfort level and bring us closer and closer to the end of our seat before crap hits the fan in the final act of the movie.

Given that the premise of this movie is that white girl takes black boyfriend to her family that she claims is not racist, it's safe to say that you have a pretty good idea of what will actually happen when he gets there. You know that there's something up with this family and that our main character is in big danger. When you have a horror movie where you know exactly where it's going to go, that makes it a slightly less enjoyable experience. This movie takes place over the course of a few different days at this home and after the first night, I knew the exact direction that the movie was going to take. I knew which characters were bad and I knew which characters were victims. While I didn't know the specifics of what was going to happen, I knew the general direction of the movie and when things were revealed, there was no shock value. It was like, "Yeah that made total sense." Or "I saw that coming from a mile away." As I said, the setup of the movie is great. And the direction from Jordan Peele is fantastic. He manages to take a fairly basic horror idea that is kind of by the numbers and predictable and turn it into a well made film that keeps your attention from the first scene to the last scene. And you walk out of the theater satisfied and entertained.

One final thing to touch on. The best horror movies, and thrillers for that matter, are ones that the villain has good motivations. Why is the ghost haunting the place? Why is the witch performing sorcery? Why is the serial killer murdering people? Why is the creepy dude stalking someone? Why is the old man trapping people in his house? "Just for the heck of it" is not a good enough answer. "Split" has great motivations. "Pyscho" has phenomenal motivations. "Don't Breathe" has good motivations. "The Witch" has good motivations. "The Babadook" has good motivations. "Lights Out" doesn't have good motivations, but is effective in what it set out to do. "Get Out" is also effective in what it sets out to do. It's successfully creepy with a great setup and great acting all around, especially from Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams. Jordan Peele proves he knows how to direct horror and I want to see more from him in this genre. We also have great social commentary and well placed comedy that doesn't ruin the creepy mood. We also have a very satisfying finale. But the movie is fairly predictable and the motivations aren't there. Because of that, I'm shocked that more critics haven't been daring enough to pick this apart. That said, I'm still giving "Get Out" an 8/10.

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