• Get Out

    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: May 23rd, 2017.
    Director: Jordan Peele
    Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Katherine Keener
    Year: 2017
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    The Movie:

    The feature directorial debut of Jordan Peele opens with a scene where black man named Dre (Lakeith Stanfield) walks through a suburb late at night. He’s lost. When a white Porsche pulls up behind him and slowly tails him he knows something is wrong. He reverses course, trying to pay the car no mind, but it’s too late. The driver gets out, knocks him out, and drives off with him.

    From here, we meet a young black man named Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a photographer by trade. His white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), has talked him into heading out to her family’s remote country estate for the weekend. He’s understandably got mixed emotions about this. On one hand, he clearly loves Rose and they’ve been together for four months now, it make sense that she’d want to introduce him to her family. On the other hand, she hasn’t told her family that he’s black and he knows that not everyone in America is okay with mixed race relationships. She assures him everything will be fine – her dad voted for Obama. They leave Chris’ dog Sid with his friend Rod (LilRel Howery), a portly TSA agent, for the weekend and off they go.

    One the way to the house, they hit a deer. Chris gets out to check on the animal while Rose stays at the car. Not knowing what else to do, the cops are called and even though Chris wasn’t driving and has done absolutely nothing wrong, the white officer wants to see his identification. Rose pushes back on this. She knows he can’t do that. Soon after, they arrive and things seem innocent enough at first. Rose’s parents, a psychiatrist named Missy (Katherine Keener) and a surgeon named Dean (Bradley Whitford), seem nice enough though her dad appears to be overcompensating, referring to Chris as ‘my man’ and noting that he’d have voted for Obama for a third time if he could have. When Chris can’t help but notice the hired help – Walter (Marcus Henderson) and Georgina (Betty Gabriel) – are black, Dean tells him that they were hired to help his parents before they passed away and that once they died, they just couldn’t bear to let them go. That night at dinner Chris meets Rose’s brother, Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), who gets a little too far into a bottle of wine and ends the night be talking about Chris’ physique and trying to put him into a headlock. When he goes out for a cigarette late at night, Missy tries to talk Chris into letting her hypnotize him so that he’ll give up the filthy habit.

    As luck would have it, Chris and Rose have arrived on the same day that the Armitage’s throw their annual party. Chris is, again, a little nervous about this but Rose puts him at ease as best she can. Chris is brought out and introduced to everyone, but soon realizes he’s the only black guy there and he feels out of place. This changes briefly when he meets a man named Logan, a young black man there with a white woman clearly much older than himself. Chris learns, however, that Logan isn’t exactly who he appears to be – in fact, no one here is who they appear to be…

    Seeing this first run before the hype machine blew up around this picture would have probably been a more gratifying experience than catching it months later on home video, but even with that said Peele’s film is a strong one. While the ending is a bit of a cop out (without wanting to spoil it let it suffice to say that if feels like the film is holding back), the story is well told. There’s a lot of interesting foreshadowing here and some interesting allegorical visuals that keep you mentally and visually engaged in what’s happening. The film is also very well paced. It doesn’t really turn into a horror film until the last third and it’s never ‘scream out loud scary’ but Peele shows a real knack for building tension and suspense with this outing. The cinematography is polished, slick even, and the use of sound in the movie is also very strong, with some well-chosen musical selections complementing proceedings rather nicely.

    The film is clearly politically charged and influenced by current events. Though Peele reportedly wrote the picture roughly eight years ago the movie definitely feels more poignant because of the police shootings of black men and the Black Lives Matter movement that have been all over the news in recent years. The picture also clearly deals in social politics as well as racial politics, though to be fair often times these are strongly linked. If it’s an obvious metaphor, so be it, but the haves definitely exploit and steal from the have-nots in this film, an allegory only too appropriate in 2017America where so called ‘health care plans’ are being rammed through Congress as a thinly veiled tax cut for the one percent. Depending on where your own politics lie, you may get more out of this than other viewers but Peele’s clearly wearing his own beliefs plainly on his sleeve. If that upsets some viewers, well, so be it but you can’t really fault the guy for taking things in this direction.

    Get Out, however, is entertainment first and foremost and on that level it is a genuine success. While the hyperbole surrounding this release would have you believe it’s one of the best horror pictures in years, if it isn’t that it is at least a really strong thriller laced with some genuinely effective moments of comedy, dark or otherwise. If it borrows elements from Rosemary’s Baby, Night Of The Living Dead and most obviously The Stepford Wives, Peele still manages to put his own stamp on things. If the picture can’t quite live up to the hype, it’s still a tense, and sometimes very funny, suspense film.

    The performances are excellent across the board. Allison Williams has an appealing girl next door quality that makes her completely crush-worthy. She’s not ridiculously glamorous nor does she ever seem like she couldn’t make a perfectly believable girlfriend for Chris. Katherine Keener proves she can play wicked with the best of them, she steals a few scenes in this picture and really gives a great performance. Bradley Whitford is almost as good, playing the dopey father figure quite well. Supporting work from Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson is solid and LilRel Howery as the film’s comic relief is also quite good. Daniel Kaluuya is the best of the bunch, however. As Chris he’s quite believable. He’s also quite likeable. He treats Rose well, he cares about his dog, he has a cool job and a neat apartment and he and Rod joke around in amiable ways. There’s no reason to dislike Chris at all in the film and a big part of way the movie works as well as it does is Kaluuya’s turn in the part. He handles the drama, the action and the horror movie elements with an equal amount of class and style and not only that but he makes it look easy.


    Get Out arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.4.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc. As you’d expect for a brand new feature, the transfer is excellent. Detail is consistently strong and frequently very impressive while the picture shows nice depth and good texture. Black levels are nice and deep but devoid of any crush while color reproduction is pretty much perfect. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and the image, shot digitally, is pristine. There are no noticeable issues with any obvious compression artifacts nor is there any noticeable sharpening or edge enhancement. This is, by anyone’s standards, a very strong picture.

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track on this disc is of very good quality. Optional subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish are offered here as well. The lossless track on this disc is also of very high quality. Dialogue stays clean, clear and always easily discernable. The rear channels kick in frequently throughout the movie giving us a pretty immersive mix, especially during the more action intensive scenes and the scenes where Chris is under hypnosis and goes into ‘The Sunken Place.’ The music used throughout the movie also sounds great, with nice, strong bass response that gives the mix a strong low end, but never at the cost of clarity.

    Extras start off with a feature length audio commentary with writer/director Jordan Peele, who starts off by talking about what a surreal honor it is to be doing a commentary for the film before describing the movie as one that has ‘many layers to it.’ As the commentary plays out, Peele does a really solid job of letting us into his head and explaining what he was thinking when he made some of the choices that he made. He notes the opening scene as an attempt to subvert the perfect white suburb, points out the fact that the opening scene points to the finale, and how this ties into the history of The Knights Templar and the Holy Grail! He points out the importance of mirrors and glass in the film and explains much of the foreshadowing that occurs throughout the picture. Along the way he points out subtleties in the performances, a great example being Rose’s smile in the opening scene compared to her smile later in the film. He also talks about shooting the film in Mobile, Alabama and trying to make it feel like Brooklyn, why certain scenes were shot handheld, and of course, the issues of racism and how a character like Chris has dealt with it his entire life compared to Rose, who hasn’t experienced what Chris has. Lots of great detail here that you might not pick up on the first time, especially in regards to little hints that the Armitage family lay down early in the movie that should, on a second viewing at least, serve as some serious red flags! There’s some interesting talk about the importance of maintaining the illusion, how Jeremy is really the only character who is himself to Chris, the metaphors that are put into the film by way of certain images placed in the background, where the idea of ‘the sunken place’ came from, how the reveal of Dre’s story ties into cultural stereotypes, the importance of not letting your audience get too far ahead of your lead character and various films and events that influence some of what he was going for here.

    He also tells some quirky anecdotes from the shoot, like how an air force base nearby the shoot wreaked havoc with the sound in one scene, having to make some last minute casting choices, the difficulties of finding a Japanese actor in Alabama, not being able to fire a little kid for not being tall enough and a fair bit more. He also rightly gives a whole lot of credit to the cast that he worked with on this picture. All in all, this is a very thorough, detailed and interesting commentary.

    Unveiling the Horror of Get Out is a ten minute featurette. Peele talks about wanting to make a horror film while producers Sean McKittrick and Jason Blum talk about what appealed to them about the script. Peele notes that the movie is a horror film and that it has comedic elements but that it deals with issues he’s experienced and dealt with in the real world. From there, the piece lets the participants discuss how they went about setting up some of the scares in the film, how it isn’t too dissimilar from setting up a scene where you want the audience to laugh. The principal cast members show up here to talk about what it was like working with the first time director – everyone seems quite impressed with him both on a personal and a professional level. There’s also some interesting behind the scenes footage here that shows Peele and his cast and crew at work on the film.

    Also included on the disc is a five minute Q&A discussion with Peele and the cast hosted by Chance The Rapper. Peele talks about writing the film during the era of the ‘post racial lie’ that occurred after Obama was elected and some people said then that racism in America was dead. Kaluuya talks about how the project interested him because ‘it’s what racism feels like’ and how that resonated with him while Williams talks about how proud she is to have been involved in a film that might ‘piss people off a little bit’ and get people to talk. Henderson shares a fun story about what happened to him when he landed the role and got lost in L.A. when he just stated walking. Peele also talks about the psychology of the film and why it plays such an important role in the film and how art and communication are really the best tools we have against violence.

    Also on hand is a selection of deleted scenes, available with optional commentary from Peele. You can watch these individually or through a ‘play all’ button, these run just over twenty-three minutes in combined running time and while adding them might not have necessarily improved the film, they’re interesting to see (and the commentary is quite interesting too).

    The disc also includes an alternate ending that is available with optional commentary from Peele in which he explains why he changed it. Personally, this ending seemed more in keeping with the tone of the movie and seemed to be a more fitting conclusion to the story, but of course opinions will vary. Menus and chapter selection are also included and trailers for a few other Universal properties play before the main menu screen loads.

    As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie is also included and it includes extra features identical to those found on the Blu-ray disc. Also included inside the keepcase is a download code for a Digital HD version of the movie. The cast itself fits inside a cardboard slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Get Out is smart, suspenseful and occasionally quite funny. It’s also slickly directed and very well acted. Peele shows a real knack for building tension here and the story works on a few different levels, giving viewers plenty of food for thought by the time it’s all over. Universal’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds excellent and contains a nice selection of interesting extra features to accompany the main attraction.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!