The last thing I wanted to be doing tonight, is writing a review while shaking my head from the frustration that comes from what I’ve come to call IT FOLLOWS-ITIS. The fact that twice in the past two years, promotional departments and even worse, film critics, have gone out of their way to practically canonize films that, while having a solid concept and/or elements that impress and surprise, still have issues to discuss. (This is in my humble opinion, and I’d like to remind our readers that every critic’s impressions and comments are purely subjective, no absolutes, just opinion). Artistic qualities are in the eye of the beholder, and if they cause discussion or disagreement- they have done their job.
I saw that our site has an effusively positive review of Jordan Peele’s debut as a cinematic writer/director, GET OUT.
As a matter of fact pretty much everyone – EVERYWHERE has shouted this film’s praises from the highest mountain, and extolled almost everything about it, as they did with IT FOLLOWS and THE WITCH a few years back. I know perfectly well that I was in the minority NOT jumping on the “best in years….most original and daring… utterly terrifying….the new face of horror cinema…” bandwagon for those two, mainly because, while I thought each film had substantially wonderful things to discuss, neither of them (or just about any film in existence) contained the level of greatness spouted by critics and echoed EVERYWHERE by studio promotional departments.
I have such passion and love for horror cinema, that I genuinely hope that each new project will be worthy of praise and adulation, and I also hope that my opinions are taken as the absolute truth of what, how and why I feel about what I saw. Believe me If either IT FOLLOWS, THE WITCH and now, GET OUT were anything near what almost all critics say they are, I’d be first in line trying to get everyone I could to see them as quickly and often as possible. As an honest person and (hopefully) an observant critic, I simply say what I feel.
GET OUT has, for it’s first hour, a sense of the excitement, energy and fresh-faced security that a writer/director with vision and experience brings to a project. Taking the typical horror film tropes and qualities and spinning them with unexpected rhythms and African American personalities give a rather recognizable setup a boost. A young couple Chris and his girlfriend Rose (the exceptional Daniel Kahuulya and Allison Williams) are preparing to visit her affluent parents (a sinister, low key Cathleen Keener and uncomfortably effusive Bradley Whitford) in the country. The fact that he’s African American, they’re upper class Caucasians and they’ve never met, is a set up for some racially comical conversations (Lil’ Rel Howray as Chris’ paranoid – or is he? T.S.I. agent Rodney, is given some wonderful opportunities to exploit African American cliché’s throughout the film).
After an unnerving experience with some wildlife (hang onto that one) and a local police officer they arrive and meet her overly solicits parents, who take turns being too friendly and too inquisitive regarding Chris’ life and habits (he smokes which irritates them both to unnecessary anger). We also meet Rose’s slightly (then viciously) over the top younger brother Jeremy (an “out there” Caleb Landry Jones).
With the arrival of the area’s friends and neighbors for a huge “society gathering”, the curtain is being lifted on the “deep dark secrets” that involve a surprisingly easy to second guess story line including a few (but not too many) tense moments. We also are let in on secrets regarding some early-on unnerving but unclear peripheral characters.
Up until this point, Peele has managed to keep several cinematic “balls in the air” in a very professional, stylish, tonally changing and challenging manner. Crisp, well framed cinematography by Toby Oliver and spot on editing by Gregory Plotkin give this Blumhouse production released by Universal a terrific first and solid second act. A 4.5 million dollar budget has rarely looked this good.
But then we open the door literally as well as figuratively into a Stepford Wives, Invasion of the Body Snatchers mishmash that is announced with absolutely overwrought scoring (it made me laugh out loud) from Micheal Abels. The film deliriously tries to tie in and tie up several subplots and character reveals, culminating with an important character being offed by the horns of a Stag’s antlers (hmmm where did that come from?).
This is where Peele the director should have grabbed Peele the writer and say “Awww c’mon, we laid out all of that tense (but NEVER scary) build up to this? Dude it’s become a Mad TV sketch!!” Buuuut noooo we keep on going for the few final twists (at this point who fuckin’ cares?) and happy/sloppy (another deer reference?) ending.
Sorry folks, but maybe I didn’t drink the right “KOOL-AID” but this rollercoaster derailed so badly in it’s third act, that it wiped away all of the ingenuity and fresh nervousness we had going for us!”