For me, the name Jordan Peele will always be synonymous with clever sketch comedy. In the early stages of my adolescence, Key & Peele (2012-2015), a Comedy Central series created by Jordan and his frequent collaborator, Keegan-Michael Key, was held, amongst the likes
of South Park and Family Guy, in the highest echelon of my pantheon of teenage television. However, in 2017, Peele left behind his comfortable niche in the realm of buddy-comedy shorts and made his directorial debut with Get Out, a psychological thriller neatly wrapped in astute social commentary. The film has been met with a significant amount of positive attention from a diverse pool of critics (98% on Rotten Tomatoes), and for the past two years, I have waited eagerly to see Get Out for myself. Unfortunately, I left the State Theater a bit
From a purely cinematic perspective, Get Out falls flat on a number of fronts, but most glaringly, I found that the film was far too stylistically ambivalent. Over the course of 104 minutes, Get Out oscillates between moments of dramatic tension, over the top slasher violence, sci-fi absurdism, and yes, nostalgic, Peele-esque humor. Independent from one another, the scenes of Get Out are strong, but the way in which the greater project incorporates the footage is detrimental to the emotional gravity of the film. Additionally, the thematic elements of the film are focused mostly on the serious and relevant issue of camouflaged racial tensions between Black and White Americans, and with such a dynamic narrative structure, some of the film’s more nuanced messages are greatly obscured by the spectacle of it all. Again, Get Out was Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, and at times, the film feels like a somewhat disjointed string of shorts – eerily reflective of Key & Peele.
My concerns about the stylistic coherence of Get Out aside, I found that the dramatic climax of the film was set far too early in the story. The first hour of the film is fantastic, but after the second act, the previously riveting tension of the film felt, well, cheapened and manufactured, and as such, the third act of Get Out features far more moments of the stylistic inconsistency that I took issue with in the previous paragraph. From the perspective of the viewer, it almost seems as if Peele directed two entirely separate films: acts one and two of Get Out were bold, chilling, and intellectual, whereas act three felt slightly unbelievable, goofy, and rushed.
All things considered, Get Out is slightly above average, but the film’s narrative structure was somewhat flawed. On a positive note, I thought that the cinematographers and set designers of Get Out made exceptional use of both dark and light landscapes, props, and clothing to highlight and reinforce some of Peele’s more abstract messages. Similarly, I also thought that the audio mixing of Get Out was remarkable, as the occasional interjection of shrill, dissonant violin strokes sent my fellow moviegoers out of their seats in fear.