- by Jeff Beck
Get Out: Jordan Peele Tries His Hand at Horror (Blu-ray)
Once again, as seems to happen once or twice a year, we are faced with another candidate for what could potentially be the next great horror film. At this point, anyone would understandably be skeptical when it comes to finding that film, for there has been more than a fair share of possibilities that have only resulted in major disappointments (“The Witch,” “It Follows,” “The Babadook,” “Don’t Breathe,” etc.). As we approach Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” (yes, comedian Jordan Peele), a film that has been enjoying a large amount of positive buzz, it’s hard not to look back on the other recent horror outings that had the same and do so with more than a little trepidation, not out of fear for its horror elements, but rather a concern that we could end up with just another letdown to add to the list. However, like all of the films mentioned above, it too will be given its due, and who knows, perhaps Peele of all people will finally be the one to deliver what we’ve all been waiting for.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) are an interracial couple that seem very much in love. As is natural in any relationship, they have decided to go on a trip so that he can meet her parents, though not before expressing a little concern that she hasn’t told them he’s black. She allays his concerns by explaining how her parents are not like that, even going so far as to mention how her dad would have voted for Obama a third time if he could. Upon their arrival, Rose’s parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are thrilled to meet Chris and treat him as though he’s already a part of the family. Everything seems to be going great, that is until some very strange things start happening, including a lot of odd behavior from the cook and groundskeeper, as well as a hypnosis session with Rose’s therapist mother that has some strange after-effects. As more and more of these incidents pile up, he finds that he may have no other choice than to do (or try to do) exactly as the title says before it’s too late.
I don’t think anyone could have foreseen that comedian Jordan Peele, known mainly for the sketch show “Key and Peele” and the dreadful “Keanu,” would be someone that would suddenly jump from his comfort zone of comedy and into the realm of horror. I wouldn’t go so far as to say comedy is “easy,” but there are countless things to make jokes about, whereas, as I’ve mentioned before, horror is getting harder and harder to do due to the simple fact that just about everything has already been done. Nevertheless, Peele, taking on the roles of writer, director, and producer, tries to give us something a little different with his psychological thriller “Get Out.”
Like certain horror writers of the past, Peele injects his film with some intriguing social commentary, giving you a little more to think about than your average horror outing. This would be all well and good, if it weren’t for the fact that he runs into the same roadblock that many filmmakers of the genre do nowadays in that the execution of his compelling idea is just a little too bland. Turning back to those films mentioned earlier, you may recall how they too had some fascinating ideas (a creature that follows you around relentlessly, a monster threatening a small boy and his mother, a 17th century family dealing with possession, etc.), but the problem wasn’t in their idea, it was in how they were played out on the screen.
Like those before him, Peele also wants to tell a story that should shock us and pull us into its narrative, but he spends so much time playing around and telling you practically nothing more than there’s something strange going on, that it’s very easy to lose interest in the plot that’s been built up to that point. This actually goes hand-in-hand with another common stumbling block for horror filmmakers: you can only play around with the audience so much before they’ll actually want some kind of development. If you merely subject your audience to the same idea over and over for most of the film, they’re going to start to get suspicious that there’s not much going on below the surface. The sad part of that being, as mentioned earlier, that this one does have a little more going on than usual.
That being said, the film is not without some intriguing moments. In all that time spent on letting us know that something’s not quite right at this house, Peele delivers some bizarre scenes that balance precariously between horror and comedy, making you laugh, while at the same time creeping you out just a little (as noted by some of the filmmakers, comedy and horror are somewhat close in that timing is everything). However, it’s not quite enough to make up for the struggling narrative that we should be hanging onto every step of the way, right up until the “big reveal.”
As the third act rolls around, we are given a twist that’s decent, though not particularly surprising (without giving too much away, it’s something of a more sadistic “Being John Malkovich”). It pretty much plays out as you think it will, giving you the necessary cathartic conclusion, which is satisfactory enough, despite not going in any new directions. As far as horror endings go, there’s not much to say about it other than it fits the bill just fine.
Overall, it’s not a bad attempt at a horror film by any means. In fact, it’s easily the best of the batch that were supposed to be the next great entry in the genre, only to be held back by a problem or two. In this case, the execution and the writing just weren’t on a high enough level to bring it to fruition. Hopefully Peele will try again, for if anything, “Get Out” shows that he has a lot of promise in the genre. He may not have hit on it this time, but if he sticks to it, he could easily deliver on it sometime in the near future, and perhaps then we’d finally get that next great horror film that remains so elusive.
“Get Out” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The film is beautifully sharp and clear throughout the 104-minute runtime, giving you a splendid viewing experience even in the darkest of scenes. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally impressive, giving you all of the dialogue, score, and sound effects in fantastic quality. Overall, the film has been given marvelous treatment, which will no doubt please its many fans.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jordan Peele: An intriguing commentary in which Peele discusses the making of the film and the different elements he included in it.
Deleted Scenes & Alternate Ending (27 Minutes): A collection of deleted and extended scenes that don’t add much to the film.
Unveiling the Horror of Get Out (9 Minutes): A neat featurette that goes behind the scenes of the making of the film via interviews with the cast and crew.
Q&A Discussion with Jordan Peele and the Cast (5 Minutes): A brief Q&A which covers topics including Peele’s inspiration and how the main cast got their parts.
Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” contains a fascinating idea and some intriguing social commentary, but it’s ultimately let down by bland execution and writing that never allows the idea to come to full fruition. Still, the film shows great potential for the comedian, who, with a little sharpening of his skills, could be the one to deliver the next great horror film that fans of the genre have been patiently waiting on for several years now. Hopefully he’ll try again, giving us something truly extraordinary in the process.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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