221. Get Out

★★★½

Humans don’t really fear things on a daily basis as much as they are paranoid about fear. We rarely see anyone peeping through our windows to watch us undress, we’re just paranoid that someone could be, and pull the blinds down to cover our paranoia. “Get Out” is a movie that both understands and employs paranoia rather than fear, and the film is significantly stronger for it.

Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris Washington, a soft-spoken, friendly African American man with a penchant for photography and a hot white girlfriend named Rose, played by Allison Williams. Rose invites Chris to meet her parents outside of the city, whom, understandably, are also white. Missy, her therapist mom played by Catherine Keener, is smart but tense. Her equally-educated dad Dean, played by Bradley Whitford, tries to be more accommodating and down with “the cool kids.”

But their behavior, comments and nuances are so slightly off that they make us gradually unsettled. Each awkward moment of eye contact, each unintentional racist remark pulls us closer and closer to the moment of actual fear, when we are legitimately scared and worried for the fate of Chris.

It’s a thrill and boasts powerful social commentary that resonates through its beautiful, bloody images. Director Jordan Peele is best known for being a comedian, so a serious horror film seems like a strange choice for a first feature. But he’s cementing himself as a diverse, powerful storyteller who can tap into the human psyche and see what really makes us tick.

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