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The UnPopular Opinion: Get Out

09.07.2017

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

I love a good horror movie. For me, horror does not need to be defined as purely supernatural. Some of the greatest scary movies ever made are purely psychological horror rather than featuring a vampire or zombie or any other sort of unrealistic terror. In fact, I could argue that the more realistic a horror film is, the scarier it is. We have been lucky to get a handful of truly excellent horror films in recent years, all of which are very different. Films like THE BABADOOK, IT FOLLOWS and THE WITCH have varying levels of realism but all portray horror in a manner that makes you question whether anything you are seeing on screen is actually happening. These films are critically acclaimed and become some of the movies that you cannot stop hearing about from critics and friends. Earlier this year, Jordan Peele's feature debut GET OUT was released to that same acclaim and became a hit with both critics and audiences. It was immediately heralded as the arrival of a new auteur and bandied about as a masterpiece. While GET OUT is certainly a competent film, it is far from a masterpiece and Peele is not the next Roman Polanski. In fact, GET OUT could be the most overrated movie of 2017.

I make no qualms about my distaste for Blumhouse films. I won't dismiss Jason Blum's shingle outright as they did release WHIPLASH, THE GIFT and M. Night Shyamalan's SPLIT, but the vast majority of their microbudget movies are no better than the crap that populates most of the Redbox kiosks outside the local supermarket. I hesitate to call the movies crap, but they certainly are not masterpieces. Most of them are not even worth a second glance. What intrigued me most in seeing GET OUT was the great cast and the fact that the former MadTV comedian and Key & Peele star was directing a serious movie. It could have easily amounted to a throwaway film that would kickstart Jordan Peele as a filmmaker and nothing more than that. But, what worked to benefit GET OUT was Donald Trump. The election of Trump to the Presidency came with a slew of racial tension that crossed from a simmer to a full blown boil. The entire political spectrum of the United States is in upheaval and GET OUT capitalized greatly on the zeitgeist. GET OUT is not a "Black movie" or an "Urban film" as many features are labeled when marketed to primarily African-American audiences. GET OUT does succeed in making a movie that can appeal to anyone, regardless of skin color, but it falters in trying too hard in certain places.

The UnPopular Opinion, Get Out, Jordan Peele, Horror, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Daniel Kaluuya

GET OUT plays like a cross between GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER and MEET THE PARENTS. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are great as the affluent couple who try not to seem awkward around their daughter's boyfriend. Whitford does a great job of being a dad who tries to sound hip and cool but ends up coming off as a dork. Allison Williams is equally good playing a Caucasian woman who is hyper-sensitive to the fact that she is in a mixed race relationship. Having seen Williams for years on the HBO series Girls, though, and you wonder if she is even acting or just playing a variation of herself. Daniel Kaluuya has the daunting task of leading the film as the target for his girlfriend's family and their sinister machinations. Anyone in a mixed race relationship can immediately find parallels to what happens in the first act of GET OUT which is why it almost feels like a shame that the big twist is so completely stupid.

Jordan Peele develops one hell of a character drama and instills a brutal back story for Kaluuya's character, Chris, that involves his mother's death and his feeling of responsibility for it. That alone is a far more intriguing concept than what is actually going on. But, the death of Chris' mother serves as nothing more than a plot device and never gets explored as deeply as it should. It does come back to play a role in the final scenes of the film, but it never really feels like it was earned. None of GET OUT feels earned as the movie is built on an interesting premise constructed with flimsy narrative. Once the big twists are revealed to be a scientific process that transplants the consciousness of aging people into young, nubile bodies, the movie falls completely apart. All I could keep thinking about was the scene in CHASING AMY when Hooper X explains the racial subtext of STAR WARS. GET OUT tries to be political but ends up feeling cheesy. Once the movie starts showing old white people fawning over young Black people, I was waiting for something out of The Twilight Zone to happen but it never quite works.

That doesn't even scratch the biggest issue with GET OUT which is the same issue that befalls many modern horror films: stupid character decisions. GET OUT is constructed in such a way that every possible convenience falls in the benefit of the narrative. People leave out cell phones which work or don't work in favor of the story. This seemingly long-running kidnapping scheme perpetrated by the Armitage family is undone by Chris doing some very basic snooping. Why would Rose leave a stack of photos with other victims in a room that Chris could very easily locate? Why would they kidnap Andre Heyworth (LaKeith Stanfield) on an open street where they could easily get caught if they have this complicated plan to lure men up to the family estate? These questions and more pop up throughout the film and never seem to meet a satisfactory explanation. There is even the fact that Chris sends a photo of Andre Heyworth to his friend Rod (Lil Rey Howery) and he instantly recognizes the man as someone they used to know. Now, Jordan Peele could explain that last one as a riff on the stereotype that all Black people know each other, but that is the lone plot hole that I can give the benefit of the doubt.

Then there is the call for Jordan Peele to be the next director of every major franchise out there. Peele does a serviceable job of directing GET OUT but there is nothing here to deserve such laurels being tossed to him. I did like the sequences of Chris being hypnotized, but those stylistic flairs are not enough for me to anoint Peele as the next Darren Aronofsky or M. Night Shyamalan. Yes, Peele does have an eye for filmmaking and I would love to see what he does next, but not every decently helmed film should result in a job making STAR WARS or Marvel movies (although they could do worse). GET OUT suffers from the same problems as many Blumhouse films. For a microbudget feature, it looks pretty good, but it is as disposable as everything else. GET OUT does float to the top of the pile but like Shyamalan's recent films THE VISIT and SPLIT, once you finish watching it, you will forget all about it. The recent horror film DON'T BREATHE seized on the economic downturn to deliver a film that has something to say about the housing crisis in the United States and it was an intriguing watch despite it's own plot contrivances. 

The UnPopular Opinion, Get Out, Jordan Peele, Horror, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Daniel Kaluuya

GET OUT is a timely film and a politically prescient peek into the divides between races in our society. There is no doubt that GET OUT was constructed to be a product of the times in which it was created. There is even a chance that decades from now, people may reflect back on GET OUT as a hallmark of the Trump Era but it could just as easily disappear into the piles of low budget flicks that burn brightly and then fade away. There has been buzz about potential sequels and Jordan Peele has admitted he has thought about it, but all that would do is cheapen what was a surprising debut for a burgeoning talent. GET OUT is serviceable and okay for what it is, but had it been released two years ago, I doubt it would have been as universally acclaimed as it has been. It is hard to argue with a 99% Rotten Tomatoes score, but looking deeper at this movie I find nothing but issues that need to be addressed. GET OUT could have benefited from a second set of eyes on the script to tighten those plot issues and give the supposed reveal at the end a little more merit. But, just like it was seemingly simple for Chris to break out of the Armitage's laboratory, GET OUT as a film is easy to forget about.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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