Sunday 21 May 2017

Review by Jeremy Sumner of "Get Out"

Is there anything scarier than realising whilst watching a fictional movie that it could almost certainly be a reality? 

Recent trends in cinema would seem to suggest that the horror films that hit a bit closer to home are becoming more and more popular. Films such as The Purge (somehow) have been so well received that they’ve found themselves in the position to continue making sequels until audiences have had enough of watching the general public disintegrate into sadistic psychopaths for twenty-four hours. Even upcoming movies, such as Life, which focuses on the discovery of hostile life from Mars, hits a lot closer to home than possessed dolls and vengeful poltergeists. It should be no surprise then that Get Out has captured the attention of the public and critics alike.

The story revolves around Chris Washington having to go and meet his girlfriend Rose Armitage’s parents for the first time in an isolated rural environment; a scary enough prospect for most. However, the draw of the film comes with the added factor that Chris is concerned that Rose hasn’t told her family he’s black, leading him to worry of any hostilities he may (almost certainly will) encounter. As the dream weekend evolves into a perpetual nightmare, Chris slowly begins to understand the gravity of the situation he has found himself in.

I confess I haven’t found myself connecting with many horror films I’ve watched. The best that I’ve watched in recent memory was The Witch, which depicted the supernatural fears and trials faced by a tormented family in medieval England. I admired this film for its boldness in avoiding cliché jump scares at all cost, with the real horror stemming from the despair and trauma faced by those inhabiting the world. Ever since then, I’ve always admired films that have been able to induce moments of pure terror and fear in an audience just by the placement and structure of the scene in regards to the plotline; Get Out follows this pattern wonderfully. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not got anything against jump scares. As a matter of fact, this film has a fantastically placed jumpy moment that caught the entire audience off guard. However, the real power in this film is the tension that is built up throughout. From the first arrival at Rose’s parent’s house, myself and the entire audience were on the edge of our seats, genuinely worrying for the well-being of Chris in this completely alien world. Without revealing any spoilers, the final scene of the movie was so powerful in its terror that it caused outcries of fear and disbelief from everyone in the room, including myself.

In the starring role, Daniel Kaluuya acts fantastically as the sceptical and reserved Chris Washington. I found myself drawn to how effortlessly he handled a character with such emotional depth and trauma, and how easily he managed to develop Chris in a believable manner. His mannerisms when faced with the cringe-inducing racially charged questioning from the other guests at the Armitage family house almost mirrored that of my friend’s reactions when they were watching it with me. The reality from which this film draws is replicated on screen to such a level that it becomes even more horrifying to me that extreme racism like this does indeed occur in our world.

The Armitage family themselves prove themselves to be worthy opponents for Chris, with notable mentions to Allison Williams for her compassionate and understanding portrayal of Rose, and the hypnotically calm depiction of the malevolent Missy Armitage by Catherine Keener. Betty Gabriel, as the hauntingly ever-present maid Georgina, fantastically provides the strongest point of unease in this film, her excruciatingly calm voice and exterior clearly masking a tormented soul underneath. 

A great success of this film also comes with its moments of comedy, primarily provided by Chris’s best friend Rod Williams, played by Lil Rel Howery. This is an area in which director and writer Jordan Peele has thrived, with his success in comedy coming from his Emmy winning TV series Key and Peele. Howery’s scenes offer brief moments of relief and humour as he interacts with Chris over the phone, reflecting the difference in worlds they currently find themselves in.

As a horror film, Get Out has it all. The unbearably strong tension and fear built up throughout the entire film finishes with an incredibly horrifying yet satisfying climax; as clichéd as it sounds, the actors really did bring the characters to life, and scarily so; the director and producers shot a fantastically picturesque yet haunting film with a similarly spooky soundtrack to go with it (it’s safe to say that I will never be able to listen to “Run, Rabbit, Run, Rabbit” ever again). What’s even more impressive is that this film has come at the perfect time. As the world around us appears more and more bleak, this film challenges us with the frightening reality of racism that is taking place in our world every day. Walking out of the cinema, I couldn’t help but worry about just how real that film could be, and how many Armitage families and their friends are in this world.

In terms of ticking all the right boxes and operating within the realms of reality, I can safely say that Get Out will go down as the best horror film I have ever seen. 

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