Get Out is a feature-length version of the not-quite-joking sentiment among African Americans that the suburbs, with their overwhelming whiteness and cultural homogeneity, are eerie twilight zones for Black people. Far from being a one-joke movie, however, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is both a clever, consistently funny racial satire and a horror film, one that mocks white liberal cluelessness and finds humor in—but doesn’t dismiss—Black people’s fears.
Thematically, it’s very of-the-moment. Peele’s screenplay has a twentysomething Black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), traveling with his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), to meet her affluent, progressive, Obama-loving parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) in their prim, manicured community. Rose’s dad feels embarrassed to be a wealthy white man who employs a Black maid and groundskeeper, but they worked for his parents before they died and now they’re part of the family—a part of the family that, Chris notices, is unusually deferential and mild-mannered.
This is a comedy first, but there are thriller elements sprinkled throughout (including a trippy hypnosis scene), and by the end, the plot turns to overt horror. Peele’s deft touch with the scary parts is a nice surprise, and genre fans will appreciate his willingness to deliver satisfying violence when it’s called for. Best of all, though, is his ability to embed themes of racial equality in a satire masquerading as a date-night horror-comedy. Biting but good-natured, incisive but not preachy, Get Out is the kind of self-reflective comedy that can bring America together.