The Movie (5/5)
I spent a lot of time building up to my first viewing of Get Out, which released to theaters in February, and is now finally hitting home video on the 23rd. It was one of those movies that hit during the black hole of a timesink that was my semester of student teaching, and even though I desperately tried, I was never able to make it out to see it in theaters. Instead, I did some homework, and grabbed Twilight Time’s release of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner during their March Madness sale, and kind of watched as the hype build to a peak about a month after the film’s release. Reviews were incredible, perhaps to the point of hyperbole for Jordan Peele of Key and Peele fame’s directorial debut. Fever pitch for the film grew to the point where my twitter feed was full of articles complaining when a single critic gave it a negative score, knocking it’s Rotten Tomatoes score from 100% down to a measly 99%, where it remains today. So, in sitting down to watch the film for review, what I was really trying to figure out was two things; is it a good movie, and more interesting to some, does it meet the hype that was generated around it? Let’s find out.
Get Out is the story of a young interracial couple, Chris, who is black, and Rose, who is white, as they journey to Rose’s parents’ house to introduce Chris to her parents. Although warned against doing so by his close friend Rod, Chris embraces the idea. Almost immediately upon their arrival that the Armitage estate, Rose’s family’s isolate lake house, racial tensions ramp up as Rose’s family attempts to make Chris feel at home, as the family makes awkward comments, and it is revealed that the house is tended to by an all black staff that isn’t quite all there. Tensions continue to increase as it’s revealed that Rose’s parents are hosting a large get together of her former Grandfather’s friends, and they too bring black guests to the party that seem off, or uncomfortable. In an attempt to get to the bottom of things, Chris forces their hand, leading him down a devastatingly haunting path, in which Chris must risk everything in order to escape the terrifying secrets of the Armitage family.
Let me first start off by saying that, racial commentary and social satire aside, Get Out is one of the most fully realized and successful genre mashups I’ve ever gone up against. Director and screenwriter Jordan Peele has crafted such a sharp and entertaining, yet haunting and entertainingly over the top vision that effortlessly blends elements of decades worth of different movie tropes and ideas. You toss a dart at any given point in the movie, and you’ll hit pieces of films like the above mentioned Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Face/Off, and pacing and reveals straight out of the most effective classic horror films combined with the stylized violence and zaniness of the best Tarantino movies. It could have easily felt like a soulless homage, but combined with the racial insight and a taste of the wit that Peele became famous for through his sketch comedy program Key and Peele, it becomes something truly special.
Through his script, Peele challenges us to remember just how prevalent racism is, even in a post-Obama presidency era. However, rather than pummel head on with intense poverty and prejudice, he uses hyperbole to get us to continue to open our eyes to the battle that’s still not over. The character Rose, played by actress Allison Williams, is a perfect embodiment of the overly privileged, ignorant attitude felt by many that racism was overcome in the Obama era, and who overlook the problems that still plague our society; rather than be subtle it in the take on this attitude, Peele drives the character to become more and more cartoonishly evil, wielding her effectively as a blunt object, along with her parents, played by Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford, to remind us of the dangers that ignorance and naivety of this kind pose to solving the real racial injustices of our society. The lead male character Chris, played by British actor Daniel Kaluuya, is both your traditional horror movie protagonist, but also a great representation of the subtle, and later on over the top and absurd racism that the modern black American faces in everyday life. His character is the perfect contemporary, displaying depth and traits that aren’t usually assigned to parallel characters in other films.
Writing aside, the film is cemented on the shoulders of performances by an incredible ensemble cast, featuring the likes of the above mentioned actors and actresses, as well as supporting characters played by Lil Rel Howery, Stephen Root, and Keith Stanford. Kaluuya is the perfect straight man against all the mayhem that unfolds around his character Chris, delivering a performance that starts out confident and grounded, but that slowly eroded over the course of the film into a terrified desperation. Whitford feels like he finally gets to stretch his legs, playing the truly crazy and sinister man that we always knew was lurking underneath his West Wing exterior, and Williams and Keeler, while not ultimately the stars of the building insanity, play into their roles with appropriate gusto when stuff hits the fans. Root, while limited in his role, is potentially the only shot this movie has at giving us a sympathetic villain, and Howery, who plays Chris’s best friend Rod, is the perfect burst of comedic relief that the film needed to stave off total bleakness.
When all’s said and done, I had very little to complain about after tearing through Get Out. The cinematography is sharp, contrasty, and colorful and the special effects are fittingly grotesque to fit the climax of the movie. It, on a couple occasions, resorted to traditional horror movie jump scares, but it managed to be tasteful when implemented. With a powerful, entertaining, and incredibly engaging script, excellent performances from a varied cast, and excellent production values, I truly believe that Get Out meets all of the hype that in generated. It’s one of the few hype snowballs that’s rolled down hill and gotten bigger that hasn’t resulted in a disastrous roll through a village full of innocent children, resulting in numerous casualties that are senselessly tragic.
The Video (4/5)
Get Out, according to IMDB, was shot using the Arri Alexa Mini in 3.4K resolution, and finished in 2K resolution for theatrical projection. It was cropped from the native 1.78:1 aspect ratio to 2.35:1 in post production. The film is presented here in 1080p resolution, maintaining that 2.35:1 scope aspect ratio.
Get Out was shot on a measly 4.5 million dollar budget, and the limitations in terms of lighting and its resulting effects on image quality show. The film tends to have a pretty noticeable layer of video noise creeping into the image, especially during the darker scenes. That being said, the presentation tends to have beautiful colors, with deep blues, and nicely saturated yellows and reds throughout the film. Like most digitally captured movies, it’s razor sharp, and as a result detail, especially in the darkest, most intimate close-ups is fantastic, revealing the rich textures of Kaluuya’s face and the finer elements of the set design. Occasionally, during the heavier nighttime sequences contrast suffers, making it difficult to make out facial features due to the heavy black and blue slanted color timing. Overall, Get Out looks perfectly fine in 1080p, but don’t expect Blu-ray’s finest.
The Audio (4.5/5)
Get Out is presented on home video with a 5.1 DTS-Master Audio surround presentation, mirroring how it was heard in a theatrical setting.
Man. Props to the guy in charge of the audio mix. What could have been a dull, front focused dialogue heavy movie is instead an incredibly lively experience due to excellent application of the LFE subwoofer channel at select moments in the film. The incredible weight provided to punches and gunshots later in the film by sharp, accurate bass perfectly contrasts the long sequences of conversation and idle chit chat that make up for 80% of the movie’s runtime. The score, composed by Michael Abels, tiptoes through the film, punching through the front stereo speakers to great effect throughout. Surround activity is minimal, but that’s the only real complaint I have about an otherwise great 5.1 surround sound experience.
Special Features/Packaging (4/5)
Get Out has been released to home video by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. The front cover features a redesign of the film’s theatrical poster, with 5 different frame grabs from the film positioned around the film’s title, separated out like pieces of shattered glass. The back artwork features a picture of Daniel Kaaluya in character as Chris falling through darkness, with a review quote, a paragraph about the film, and a list of features surround him. Below that is a series of different frame grabs of other characters from the film, theatrical credits, and technical specs for the release. Decent packaging for an amazing movie; my release did not come with a slipcover, which is a downright shame.
Oh well, onto the features:
Alternate Ending – the film’s original ending, in which Chris is arrested and sent to prison. Also available with feature commentary by Jordan Peele.
Deleted Scenes – 12 deleted scenes from the film, mostly alternate takes of Rod’s arrival, a few extended scenes or alternate takes, and a wholly deleted scene concerning badminton. All with Jordan Peele commentary.
Unveiling the Horror of Get Out – a 9 minute feature about how the film came to be, and why the film was made, as well as how it was made, with on set footage and insight from cast and crew.
Q&A Discussion with Writer/Director Jordan Peele and the Cast – a five minute Q&A session moderated by Chance the Rapper. The motivations for the film, the casting and attraction of the film to the cast, and other stories from the production are shared.
Commentary – audio commentary for the entire feature, performed by writer/director Jordan Peele.
Overall, a strong set of extras, especially with the feature commentary, that provide excellent insight on what was left on the cutting floor, and why and how the film was made. Compliments the already decent packaging for the film.
Technical Specs (click for technical FAQs)
Region Coding: None
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
DTS-Master Audio 5.1 (English)
Dolby Digital 2.0 (English)
English, French, Spanish
Runtime: 104 minutes
It was a mistake not seeing Get Out in theaters, with a crowd that was experiencing the film for the first time together. Still, watching it for the first time on home video, Get Out was a visceral, moving experience that managed to be not just a tasteful homage to multiple movies, but a powerful commentary on race relations as well as an effective and engage horror movie experience led by strong performances and a great script. The film has been brought to home video with a decent 1080p video transfer, strong audio, and a great set of extras and packaging by Universal. Get Out, by every definition of the word, is RECOMMENDED.