That comedian Jordan Peele, late of Key & Peele, would choose horror for his directorial debut – he also wrote the screenplay – comes as a surprise. Yet it's only the first of many surprises in store in the weird, wild, and unpredictable Get Out.
Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris, a black New York photographer whose white girlfriend (Allison Williams) invites him to her parents' mansion upstate, to meet the family. Chris prepares himself for a weekend of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?-level awkwardness, and at first that's precisely what he gets. But when he notices the family's black maid and groundsman behaving strangely – like, Stepford Wives strangely – Chris starts to fear that there's something more sinister going on than a mere family get-together.
To reveal any more would be to rob you of the movie's fun. The less you know about Get Out, the better. It suffices to say that Peele has made a nifty social satire as well as a first-rate thriller, toying with his chosen genre without relying on cheap tricks (though there are a couple of mild jump scares). His direction and plotting are both confident and no-nonsense; the film consistently stays one step ahead of its audience. Even Peele's ultimate commentary about black-white relations in today's America goes beyond what you'd expect, striking a tone that's more resigned than inflammatory, yet also more true. He and Keegan-Michael Key worked through loads of racial tropes on Key & Peele, so I'm guessing Peele outgrew all the obvious statements long ago.
Get Out is more interested in entertaining its audience than in disturbing it, so you're not in for an experience that will shake you to your core. Still, it's good fun; tense and plotty and smart – though if you're expecting a comedy, I'll warn you that the laughs are mostly confined to supporting player Lil Rel Howery, who gets all the best lines.
The film itself joins the ranks of the many clever chillers that have emerged in recent years, including You're Next, It Follows, Green Room, The Babadook, and The Invitation. Genre film is enjoying a golden age right now, and while wussy little me chickened out on seeing those other movies in the theater, I didn't want to make the same mistake with Get Out. Neither should you.