Sundance Review: “Get Out”

LOUISA: 1.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

The classic ‘meet the parents’ weekend is turned on its head in “Get Out,” the directorial debut from comedian Jordan Peele. Peele has created a wannabe thriller about unsettling race relations in the U.S., but overall it’s a “Stepford Wives” style disappointment that lacks any suspense and has very little humor. I predict many critics will proclaim this movie as being a true original, but it’s not. An important social issue doesn’t make it a good movie, and I think some will be afraid to criticize the film and its many flaws because of it.

When white girl Rose (Allison Williams) invites her black boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) to go home and meet her mom (Catherine Keener) and dad (Bradley Whitford), something is definitely rotten. Her parents are the perfect picture of the ideal in-laws: accepting, intelligent and kind. Chris gets more than a little spooked when he spots strange and bizarre behavior from several of the household servants, which leads to more disturbing discoveries, a few jump scares, and a forced hypnosis from mom. Of course this turns out to be some kooky white people cult conspiracy that involves kidnapping African-American men (to avoid giving spoilers that’s all I’m going to say).

LilRel Howery plays the “stereotypical black friend” and as is the norm in most mainstream films, his character is the only one who has any funny one-liners. He’s the comic relief that keeps the engine running through this mess (although there’s an unfunny running TSA joke that outstays its welcome after the second crack). Stephen Root as a blind art dealer was enough to elicit a few polite, mild chuckles, but I found little else in the movie funny. It’s not that I expected a straight-up comedy film, but a bit more humor would’ve made the film work better.

It’s clear this race-based film was meant as a criticism of the liberal elite, those folks who think they are above any type of racism, but the film fails miserably across the board. In fact, I’m not sure if this movie aspires to be a parody, a satirical comedy, or conventional horror because it succeeds at none of the above. While trying to find its footing, the film comes across as more divisive and biased rather than clever, and it’s not the best message to be sending out into our post-Obama world and current heated political environment. (And please don’t tell me that I don’t “get” this movie because I’m white: for a movie with substantial and ambitious themes like this, there’s an even greater burden on the writer / director to make it appealing and relatable to everyone).

The film has an unappealing cast of actors, the overall story is lifeless, and it doesn’t help matters that it’s painfully slow to set up. Slow isn’t the correct word — it’s more of a draggy, tedious, exercise that tried my patience throughout the first 3/4 of the movie. I contemplated taking a nap through the majority of the screening because it was such a yawner, but thankfully things picked up a bit (albeit far too late) in the third act.

There’s no doubt “Get Out” was heavily influenced by horror genre conventions, and most of the bloody violence is on point. Peele has a good eye as a director and probably has a bright future behind the lens, but it’s the writing that he just can’t seem to pull together. This movie could’ve been a blazingly original commentary on race relations but instead, there’s no cohesiveness to his intended message. It’s a good idea, but it’s poorly executed.

This film was screened and reviewed at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

29 comments

  1. I saw “Get Out” over the weekend and loved it. I thought it worked as a horror film, a comedy and a satire. It was genuinely creepy and had several moments that were laugh-out-loud hilarious (especially the scene in the police station).

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      1. So you’re critique of the movie is based on your love for “realistic” movies. A movie can have a realistic premise all day long but at the end of the day it remains fiction and will have a super human protagonist or antagonist depending on who the main character of the story is (is it about a villain who cannot die, or a hero who cannot die). Honestly the Psycho franchise is more unbelievable than get out. Am I to believe more than one licensed psychiatrist married Bates and Bates actually never got life in prison or sentenced to death (refer to Psycho 4 that debuted in 1990)?

        Stop watching Jordan Peele Movies, skip the new movie “Us”. Your review comes from a place that somehow just did not get it. How can you (on one hand) complain about its unoriginality and then say it did not know what kind of movie it wanted to be? Either you want it original or you want it unoriginal; you seem to not know what fight you want to pick in your review.

        “Get Out” does has its share of problems; suspension of reality is necessary as well, but this kind of horror movie requires that. What makes it original is the influences gleaned to pull the ideas together. For a first time director this is a GREAT movie. It did not seem slow to me, it made me wonder how the plot was going to come to fruition. Can you tell me what about the movie had no life? Also can you tell what was wrong with the characters? The film is supposed to be biased, why would racial equality work for a movie like this? Can you explain how you would have outlined the plot?

        Jordan Peel is just not your kind of director, that is all. Stick to “Psycho” movies.

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      2. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. My review of this film has really touched a nerve with so many and, while I contend that Peele is talented behind the lens, the idea behind this one was poorly executed.

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  2. I enjoyed your review, although I’m dont hate the film. I agree with you on “I’m not sure if this movie aspires to be a parody, a satirical comedy, or conventional horror because it succeeds at none of the above”. I think its a conventional zombie-brainsucking spoof with racial satire as an afterthought. Moderately entertaining, but oh so predictable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are far from a minority. Its interesting to reflect on why viewers and critics are so divided on this one. I just read in a leading Sydney newspaper today a film review that called it “a game-changer in horror”. That is such nonsense, as this is a totally cliched horror spoof. From the moment our protagonist sees the weirdly smiling black gardener working on the rich white man’s estate the plotline was obvious and by the half-way mark it was a re-hash of horror tropes we have seen countless times before. I may be howled down for suggesting this, but any film with racial overtones brings out the loud voices.

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  4. So I finally watch this heralded movie on HBO and I am so glad that I did not spend one dime on this pile of overhyped dreck. It Was neither a horror film or a suspense film. The characters were thin, the plot was dull And derivative, and I felt like I was waiting for something to happen the entire film, and nothing actually happened. I just can’t understand why this was such a big deal. Was it the undertones of race? In black versus white carry an entire film to the Oscars? That seems to be the case, as we look to inclusion yet don’t include the fact that it requires a film of substance. The Stepford wives remake was better than this absolute garbage. I’m going to go watch episodes of key and Peele now so I can feel better …. much better.

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  5. I completely agree with you. I also thought this movie was not original at all, and I like the way you said “important social issue doesn’t make it a good movie”. This is exactly what many critics who positively reviewed the film forgot. Setting aside that the film blatantly ripped off “The Stepford Wives” and “The Skeleton Key”, my biggest criticism was the clumsy ending. That was the work of an amateur at best.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this because I have taken SO MUCH heat for “hating on” the movie. Finally happy to see I’m not the only one who didn’t like it. I’ve been called names and have been accused of writing a negative review just for the sake of being a contrarian. This isn’t true. I literally saw it at the very first screening ever with the cast, crew, and studio suits in attendance. I wrote my review that evening and was SHOCKED to see the unabashed praise and positive reviews from my fellow critics the next morning. I wondered, “did we see the same movie?!?”

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  6. Okay. You diidn’t like it but, really, 1.5 stars? Unappealing cast? Personally I thought it lived up to the hype, I don’t really care if it’s taken from other films, it’s well executed. Difficult to be suspenseful with the trailer giving so much away (and reviewers) but there are still some big surprises. This film really doesn’t represent a milestone in race relations so claiming there’s an “Emperors New Clothes” conspiracy going on is really unfair. It’s well written and there are some stand out performances, even from actors in smaller roles (the black maid!). Its creepy, exciting and tragic.

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    1. Great points here for sure. I was among the very first people to see the movie when it had a surprise screening at the Sundance Film Festival and I was definitely in the minority opinion. Gave it a re-watch when it hit theaters months later and had the same reaction. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your opinion.

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  7. Watch his lecture to UCLA students. Maybe the film doesn’t resonate with you – and that’s fine. But I find it funny how ppl feel they might know how to write about black/white relations. He said he made the film for black folk, just pleased white folks enjoyed watching it, even if they don’t get it. Cheers for your candor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “for a movie with substantial and ambitious themes like this, there’s an even greater burden on the writer / director to make it appealing and relatable to everyone.”

      Did you not read that bit or do you simply disagree?

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  8. “Her parents are the perfect picture of the ideal in-laws: accepting, intelligent and kind.”

    I found the parents awkward, patronising and insincere. The father was David Brent with a full beard. I’m sure this was the filmmaker’s intention and your impression of the parents suggests the film did not hook you right. Unlike yourself, I loved the slow build-up which was both unsettling and satirical but I did not care too much for the cliched and violent final act, although I thought the film worked overall.

    Your comment that “an important social issue doesn’t make it a good movie” was exactly what I said about the phony Monster’s Ball many years ago, a film I still loathe and I am as mystified by the praise it received as you are about the lionising of Get Out. We are all different and see things differently.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, thank you for your surprising review! Although I really enjoyed the movie (as I wrote in the review below), it’s interesting to read something radically different from my thoughts and think about it! To me everything worked, from the pace to the acting, and I really enjoyed both the story and its political commentary… but as I said, interesting read!

    https://vengonofuoridallefottutepareti.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/get-out-amazing-english/

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree with the comment made by Hza. The critics that don’t enjoy or appreciate the movie are not the target audience and cannot properly empathize with the characters. As a minority woman I had numerous visceral reactions due to the very realitic nature of this movie and it’s overtones and undertones. Your comment of speaking to an important social issue not correlating with quality speaks volumes in that you missed the intention of the movie and Peele’s message. Not everyone is going to enjoy the movie, that’s not the point. Those that don’t appreciate weren’t meant to, anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s worth noting that I screened this film in the same day that Trump was inaugurated. That certainly was on my mind, and I found “Get Out” to be too divisive, especially considering what the country was going through.

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    2. I think her point is that, despite the fact that it was made for a certain group of people, it was shown to the entire country and thus the writer/director had certain responsibilities, in this heated political environment, that he failed to live up to.

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      1. Yeah, I saw the movie at a surprise screening at Sundance months before it was released and I was shocked at how well received the movie was. I’m definitely in the minority, and I’ve screened it 3 different times and just can’t see the brilliance that everyone else does. Thanks for commenting, it’s always interesting to hear different takes on a film.

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