Get Out, B+
Rated R, 104 minutes
The new horror film "Get Out" is funny, terrifying and provocative, though it's somewhat unusual that it's written and directed by comedian Jordan Peele, of the hit TV show "Key & Peele." Audiences will be pleasantly surprised that Peele, who is most familiar with comedy, knows a thing or two about scaring you too. "Get Out" is occasionally too ambitious and becomes more conventional in its last act, but it's still one of the most original movies you'll see in the new year.
Now that Chris (comedian Daniel Kaluuya of "Kick Ass 2") and his girlfriend, Rose ("Girls'" Allison Williams in a nice change of pace), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford, respectively). At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
"Get Out" is a tense, chilling ride, peppered with both comical and thought-provoking moments. At the helm of this entertaining ride is Peele, who sublimely handles the intensity with both grace and humor, and if he ever decides to give up comedy, he would have a nice future directing horror films. Peele fills it with some pertinent statements on race, family and interracial romance, not to mention some funny ones too, making it feel like a strange, satirical combination of "The Stepford Wives" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."
With that in mind, the unconventional but ingratiating first act works best as its sets a creepy tone from the start, when Chris and Rose visit her family and bizarre things begin to happen, especially when Chris tries to befriend the few black people he sees at the estate: housekeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson), maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel), both of whom are acting very oddly, and a guest named Logan (rapper Keith Stanfield), who looks familiar to him.
When Rose's mother hypnotizes him, things get stranger for Chris, until he makes a startling discovery that finds him in deep trouble. The blood-soaked finale is its most entertaining, but also its weakest and most horror-film conventional, when he finally makes the effort to escape. Fortunately, with Peele's background in comedy, he adds a great comic relief in comedian Lil Kel Howery, and he has one of the film's best scenes when he tries to convince three detectives of his crazy story, some of which turns out to be true.
Kaluuya and Williams make for a believable pairing, with little-known British actor and comedian Kaluuya in particular carrying the film with a strong, smart performance. Peele adds more texture with a haunting musical score by composer Michael Ables, a perfect blend of Swahili and blues that underscores some of the film's chilling themes.
"Get Out" wants to scare you, make you laugh and make you think; it does so most of the time, but not perfectly, with some of Peele's touches feeling a tad heavy-handed and metaphorical: for example, when one major character is seen drinking white milk and eating Fruit Loops, it's a little too obvious, as is a fallen deer in the woods. Even with a few flaws, "Get Out" is satisfying, dark fun, even if you're not a huge fan of horror films.