Get Out (2017)

It’s been a while since we here at Fohnhouse posted a review. That’s not to say we haven’t been watching any films. We just haven’t put fingers to keys to write about them. Until now.

Get Out hit our shores a few weeks ago, arriving from The States on a wave of hype due to its race-related themes, its apparent nailing of the horror genre, and its assured direction by first-time feature-film director Jordan Peele, who also happens to be the Peele to Keegan-Michael’s Key. So, with the hysteria at an all-time high, we had no choice but to get out and see it – even if the one writing this review has a penchant for pretty much anything but horror.

Centred around a young black man who must survive a testing weekend when he goes to stay with his white girlfriend’s parents, Get Out kind of gives most of its game away before it’s even begun. We know that Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton’s characters were eventually given the parental blessing they so desired back in the ‘60s, but when ‘black man’, ‘white woman’, and ‘horror’ are the key words in your synopsis decades later, you can guess that views on interracial relationships haven’t progressed much in America since then, and that dinner with this film’s mother Catherine (Keener) will be far more punishing than it was 50 years ago.

The aforementioned assumptions do, unsurprisingly, turn out to be true, but they also underline one of the main problems with the movie: its audience. At Fohnhouse, we don’t believe the UK is as bothered by interracial relationships in 2017 as The States, and so the film, in this regard, often feels somewhat out of date. We know that as a country America is not as liberal as it claims to be, so while Get Out raises some interesting, complex points, it doesn’t feel all that fresh with this relationship at its core.

Additionally, while it is refreshing to see Peele tackle race-related topics and highlight the fact that the experiences of white people are indeed different to those of black people, he only ever skims the surface instead of digging deeper, so the film isn’t as wholly satisfying as it could be because you don’t always know what he’s trying to say, or who he’s trying to speak to. Yes, white filmgoers may have their eyes opened to things they were otherwise oblivious to, but to make the point, if this is the idea, do African-American stereotypes still need to be perpetuated? Why, as another example, is there a lone Japanese man at the white middle-class party, and how does he relate to the black/white story that Peele is trying to tell? Furthermore, does Peele want us to also come away from the film questioning the authenticity of interracial relationships, as the ones on display in his film appear to be nothing more than the consequence of racial fetishism? Maybe this was Peele’s challenge as it’s clear he’s trying to strike the right balance between the horror, the humour and the serious subject matters, but the result is something that isn’t all that funny, a little frustrating upon reflection and – according to our resident horror enthusiast – not such a great horror movie.

Overall though – to end on a positive note – as someone who isn’t a fan of the genre, Peele had me on the edge of my seat. And with strong performances from its cast, Get Out is still very enjoyable to watch. As discussed, it does have its weaknesses, and is predictable, but Peele has still confidently and skilfully transformed his vision into an entertaining first feature.